Introduction to Innovation

By H. Randall Goldsmith | THE JOURNAL RECORD, November 26, 2001 | Go to article overview

Introduction to Innovation


H. Randall Goldsmith, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Understanding the dynamics of innovation is critical to fostering the development of a competitive economy for Oklahoma in today's world. This is the first article in a series to explore the importance of embracing change as an opportunity for economic development.

"Innovation." The making of a change in something established -- new ideas, methods. Without question innovation is the underlying fundamental factor that drives change -- change in our economic, governmental, educational and social systems. Recorded time is measured in innovation milestones.

Man-made tools progressed from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age, steel and alloys. In energy, man evolved from human labor to animal power, steam power, the combustion engine, electricity, atomic energy and photonic energy. In communications, smoke signals and drums ultimately led to the Internet. Similarly, progress in education, government and society follow a genealogy of innovations.

Why are we so intrigued with innovation? What is it? How, when and where does it occur? Is innovation important, and if it is, can we promote, support and exploit it? And finally, if we chose to pursue a climate for innovation, who should do it and how do we create an ecosystem for innovation?

Let's start with the first question -- Why are we so intrigued? The answer is grounded in our knowledge of history and our hope for the future. Kondratieff, a well-known Russian economist, theorized that "new economies" driven by technology arise on 50- to 60-year cycles. The recent past supports this notion of technology waves. The Industrial Revolution began in the 1780s and was followed by "The Great Railway Era" in the 1840s, "The Mass Production Era" of the early 1900s, and the "Information Era" that began in the 1950s.

Just as a product goes through innovation, growth and maturity stages, the economy, likewise, goes through stages. A new economy or innovation wave is created with the introduction of a cluster of innovations. …

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