Innovation in the USA

I have just returned from the USA in awe of the role that Creativity and Innovation play in businesses, companies and organisations. Everywhere I turned I saw the words Creativity, Innovation, Imagination – or a wonderful variation – Imaginate! These words were written across billboards, in all forms of advertising, on the front cover of the Harvard Business Review, in the subway/met/bart. The concepts of Creativity and Innovation are embedded in the business psyche as “givens”.

There is an interesting article in the May 2012 edition of the Harvard Business Review titled Managing Your Innovation Portfolio. It’s worth a read if you can get your hands on it. (On-line taster at It begins:

Management knows it and so does Wall Street.
The year to year viability of a company depends on its ability to be innovative

The article discusses transformational rather than incremental innovation – that is – developing break throughs and inventing things for markets that don’t yet exist. This doesn’t necessarily happen however at the expense or detriment of your core market, where existing products are optimised for existing customers.

I loved Berkeley College in San Francisco…Sorority houses with Greek letters on them DO exist – they are not just a Hollywood myth! And there were lunch time parties happening at each of them on this particular Saturday. Right at the peak of the mountain is the St Lawrence Science Centre. Parents take their children there for playgroup, birthday parties and general “hanging out”. The place is full of playgrounds and interactive science  activities – what a way to develop a young mind! It was also full of posters with the words…

Imaginate – Turn Imagination into Innovation

I spoke to several students of Middle School, equivalent to our years 6 to 9 and I was struck by their ability to problem solve. This skill (threatening to become extinct in certain tribes), appears to be encouraged and rewarded in the USA – both at school and at home. The students also seem to enjoy a higher sense of self confidence and a “can do” attitude – an optimism. Surprisingly, I didn’t find this attitude specific to any particular socio-economic group either.

The themes we’ve been talking about on Julian Campbell’s radio show on 2NUR FM – Business, The Law and You – appear to be universal! Innovation needs to be managed, coordinated and integrated into business culture.

The Harvard article concludes simply with,

When it’s done efficiently, innovation is a driver of growth.

Simple and true…

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