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YES WE CAN: Innovating out of a recession (Dr. Norman Lewis)
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YES WE CAN: Innovating out of a recession (Dr. Norman Lewis)


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  • But what the growth statistics obscured was that there was relatively little wealth creation in the West. During this period, capital investment and growth of productivity remained sluggish. It is worth noting that countries like Britain and America imported capital faster than they were exporting anything in return for it. These countries became addicted not only to capital imports from abroad, but also to relying on an unprecedented expansion of credit to maintain economic activity. One important consequence of the expansion of credit was the growth of the finance sector as an important component of the service sector. By the time of the credit crunch, the financial sector accounted for around 30 per cent of the British economy. On both sides of the Atlantic, industry continued to decline.
  • Financial innovationBUT Neglect of technological innovation.decline of technological innovation is the basis for all of today’s financial shenanigans
  • Business expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP has risen only in Japan in the past 20 years; in the US and the EU, it has been stagnantSecond, government expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP has – again, with the exception of Japan – been in a steep descent
  • These titles and the proliferation of articles on innovation show how trivialised and vacuous the term has become. The concept has become a cultural affectation and an advertising gimmick. The fact that innovation is no longer simply about Research and Development (R&D), technology or investment but is now applied to everything that moves: culture, employees, creativity, thinking on the left side of the brain, role-models, etc., reveals that the discussion is one that is taking place within its own terms and is no longer linked to a broader purpose. This extraordinary attempt to promote innovation is, as I will argue below, a sign of its absence.If we were living through an era of innovation we would be having a different discussion. We would be talking about inventions or technologies or their impact or what is next. Instead we are talking about innovation as an end in itself unrelated to any broader social process which is hardly innovative. It apes the equally vacuous debate in political circles about the ‘Big Idea’. If it existed politicians and the media would be talking about solving problems rather than trying to find the Big Idea
  • The tool company developed a zero-impact wrench for the Gemini project that spun bolts in zero gravity without spinning the astronaut.
  • These commercial space communications systems evolved from high-risk technology developed and tested in orbit by NASA in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Technologies invented for one thing evolve into something else:Who could have predicted google? eBay? Amazon? MySpace? Facebook? QQ?
  • The result is the development of a culture of success which institutionalises rigidity because it cannot countenance failure or deviation from delivering predictable results
  • Transcript

    • 1. YES WE CAN
      Dr Norman Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer, Wireless Grids Corporation, USA
      10 September 2009
    • 2.
    • 3.
    • 4.
    • 5.
    • 6.
    • 7. …but they’re open
    • 8.
    • 9. R&D
    • 10. Global shift
      * Main Science & Technology Indicators, OECD, December 2008, p1
    • 11. r&D
    • 12. 326,266
    • 13.
    • 14.
    • 15.
    • 16.
    • 17. …because it was difficult!
    • 18.
    • 19. The spin-off coefficient
    • 20.
    • 21.
    • 22.
    • 23. Era of short-term pragmatism and institutionalised risk-aversion
    • 24.
    • 25. Risk culture
    • 26. R&D, predictability and expected outcomes
    • 27. The precautionary principle
    • 28.
    • 29.
    • 30.
    • 31.
    • 32. The quest for predictability
      The process of minimising unpredictable outcomes is a process that raises pragmatism and the knowable to an operating principle
      This is not how innovation really happens
    • 33. Fail often to succeed sooner
      Success is the one per cent of your work that results from the 99 per cent that is called failure
    • 34.
    • 35. The future?
    • 36. The biggest danger we face is not that our expectations are unrealistic
      Rather, it is that they are too low and we achieve them!
    • 37. NEXT?
      WHY NOT!
    • 38. Thank you