The Future of Innovation

Bettina von Stamm of the Innovation Leadership Forum, together with Anna Trifilova of the Nizhny Novgorod Architecture and Civil Engineering State University, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, invited me to contribute to a book on “Future of Innovation.” The book will be launched at the ISPIM (International Society for Professional Innovation Management) Conference to be held in Vienna, Austria on 21-24 June 2009. The conference theme is also “Future of Innovation.”

Here is what I wrote:

    The future of innovation will be influenced by the fact that the pace of technological innovations has outstripped that of political, social and ethical innovations needed to solve the problems made worse by the technological innovations themselves. Mankind has demonstrated that its ability to technologically innovate is far greater than its ability to anticipate, learn and solve the negative social consequences of those innovations.

    Innovation in the future will be driven by common threats confronting mankind. Ironically, most of those threats are man-made. Innovation will proceed in the general direction of preventing and resolving conflicts, governance at all levels, advancing human rights and human security, cross-border agreements in preventing and fighting crime and terrorism, eliminating social exclusions and other social ills that lead to poverty, generating consensus on environmental problems and solutions, and value creation.

    Innovations in value creation, either for the commercial sector or for the social or development sector, will be important in redefining and advancing wealth creation for all. Wealth creation in the new global economy has been less and less through extraction and processing of natural resources and more and more through application of human knowledge and creativity. Both pursuit of corporate profits as well as nurturing community or social development have been found to be dependent more on knowledge and other intangibles such as social and cultural capital, and less on tangible assets and infrastructures. Now and in the future, we can expect that creating and managing knowledge and other intangible assets, personal and organizational learning, and facilitating innovation itself, are playing greater roles. Innovations will move from the physical hardware and software types to also embrace the biological-ecological, behavioral, organizational, network-social, legal-legislative and symbolic-representational types.

    Development itself is being redefined. Pursuit of peace, including the use of new international sanctions to support local application of violent modes to secure long-term planetary peace, is also being redefined. As humankind’s only home planet gets more crowded and problematic, we are forced into a common journey of learning how to live together and how to creatively convert our ethnic, religious and political diversity from a disadvantage to an advantage.

    Mankind’s capacity to innovate will need to be focused on questions of “what for” and “for whom.” It will have to revolve more around finding new and better questions, than on finding correct answers to old questions. I anticipate more innovations in how people recognize and manage their own mental boxes and judgments, and how people can perform this reflective process through open dialogue within a diverse group. I sense a future where innovations will give mankind a better capacity to reflect and learn together as a group, and therefore co-create a consensus on how they can more effectively address problems they face as a group.

Bettina’s comment: “Many thanks for your contribution. We enjoyed reading it, this is really from your heart, as we are looking for! Very nice indeed!”

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