The New Rules of Innovation

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, correspondent for the Economist, discusses why the benefits of globalization haven’t been shared fairly among all people, and comes up with some ideas for how they can be. His book Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked Problems investigates how the extraordinary benefits of the innovation revolution be shared more equitably among all of society.


Vijay Vaitheeswaran

Comments [21]

DogCatDr from Manhattan

This book is great. Dr. Vaitheeeswaran says it plain. No wonder it is a hard pill to swallow.
Ofcourse we must live with a global attitude, if China holds our debt, India provides call centers and brain in medicine and engineering,the Middle East has oil.
The interview with Elliot was wonderful. One cant expect an economist to be funny?

Mar. 23 2012 07:42 AM
KCD3 from NJ

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The question remains, what’s NEXT? We may have a lot to say about Mr. Vaitheeswaran but HE is not actually the subject of his book or the show! That you think he is a shill or a fascist is besides the point! Even if he is all those things, does that make him wrong? What can be learned from him? How can I use what he says to make a better life for me and my family?

The subject of this interview is the idea, innovation. This idea has an altered definition. It seems to be a kind of short-hand for phrases like “Outside-The-Box Thinking” or “Change of mind”. This new definition includes the willingness DO SOMETHING with the idea, even when it is not supported, popular or convenient. It has little to do with “positive thinking” or any other sophomoric form of burying your head in the sand. Times are challenging. The idea that this (very American) sort of innovation is even possible, is a struggle for some. And, by the way, this kind of innovation has little to do with what one currently understands of “capitalism, credit, the history of industrialization, genetically modified plant and ecosystem risks…” etc. That is more inside-the-box stuff! Possibilities “outside-the-box” is the whole point!
The question remains; What will you do? The power of discovering what’s next, often occurs in dialog, debate, and discussion. It seldom occurs in the midst of Ad hominem attacks and nervous, fearful, finger pointing of blame. If we don’t like what corporations are doing, get our politicians to change the laws. If politicians won’t change the laws change the politicians. Even better, let us find an “out-of-the-box” solution, together! (I would suggest that getting rid of government is just more inside-the-box stuff.)

Have we forgotten the power of sharing ideas, working and THINKING together? What will WE do?

I am American enough to think that WE can find a way forward in ANY situation when WE are committed finding one. I suggest that there is no satisfaction in hand-wringing, finger-pointing and Ad hominem attacks, even if it is comforting. This is like scratching the scab off of a sore! It feels good at the time but the results are not helpful.

We are Americans. We can do better than this, very loud form of giving up!

Thank you, Mr. Vaitheeswaran, for your commentary about the practical nature possibility. You have given us something to think about.

Ken Davis

Mar. 22 2012 09:21 PM

Wow. Nobody likes Mr. Vaitheeswaran ideas. So what is good about innovation and how would you handle innovation.

Mar. 22 2012 02:58 PM
Peter Talbot from Harrison, NJ

We, the Muppets.

I am ambivalent about piling on here, but this author is spouting breathless drivel. He does not understand capitalism, credit, the history of industrialization, genetically modified plant and ecosystem risks, population curves, psychology, social interaction and causation at any level, the duties and limits of "citizenship", the means and limits of popular sovereignty, practical politics in the USA, India or China, actual cost analysis of manufacturing and supply chains currently, peak oil supply issues, potable water supply limits, the role of religion and race in democratic (and demagoguic) political debate, or any other tidbit of misinformation that he dropped like a self-help guru on the microphone this morning. I will not bother to pick up this or any other book he authors given his lack of logic, unpersuasive "feel good" rhetoric and general insensibility to the zero sum of power, water and food that is the world of tomorrow. The myth of innovation is that it happens so fast we can count on it. The dark side of innovation is that it is done without any consideration of the means of producing innovation. Faster obsolescence of products and processes means faster obsolescence in the training and persons of the producers as well as the short lived boon to the consumer. Unemployed workers don't need training to work at Wendys. They need a real job, but we have allowed our fixation with cheapest/fastest/newest to destroy the residual value in Western economies by wholesale export of manufactures we MADE demeaning by demanding discounted prices. The idea that the US is a country that lives by its "brains" is already thigh-slapping hilarious. Turns out Animal Farm was a better forecast than 1984. The Germans and French were smarter: by law the government will subsidize, promote, favor and protect a certain percentage of manufacture of each broad "type" in country regardless of free-trade suicidal impulses pushed by the banksters and hedge-fund raiders. They can do this (and the US can't) because their governments have some leverage against their domestic corporations. The US is now completely dominated by corporations and their gospel of "innovation" and "interconnectedness", used like any opiate to put their marks (we, the muppets) to sleep. The correct word for a government composed of corporate aspirants, by corporations for stakeholders (equity or debt)is "fascist." Now that we have done away with troublesome impediments to public order like habeas corpus the lambs should follow meekly to their happy ends. Workers should cry tears of gratitude that we employ them (Krupp).

Mar. 22 2012 02:28 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Arthur from Astoria, look, where this man coming from the “Economist”? The magazine is a front and a shill for capitalism with out limits. This guest has written a book which encapsulates all current conventional ideas. Absolutely nothing-new here.

Mar. 22 2012 01:43 PM
John A.

Venter seems to me an Exact match for the villan in one of Crichton's novels. Ambitious to the exclusion of important safeguards. I quote him saying this: 'We can create new species to do what we want them do do, not what evolution tells them.' (20-May-2010) Do we control evolution? Not out of the lab, we don't. And the smaller the life-form, the faster the evolution.

Mar. 22 2012 01:04 PM
Arthur from Astoria, NY

Okay, he just lost me by mentioning Ventner and GMOs. Firstly, Ventner is the epitome of greed - he's famous for applying for patents for stretches of the human genome without even knowing what they do. GMOs DO create imbalances in an ecosystem - they lead to superweeds, a loss of biodiversity among the foodstocks (which leads to greater susceptibility to diseases), and to die-offs of necessary predators. One could argue that the underlying technology could be used to deliver really nutritious food to people who need it, but it's almost impossible to extract the technology from the delivery/capital model that Monsanto uses.

Mar. 22 2012 12:54 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

This thesis that America can only have an innovation economy is really a bunch of bull. The notions leaves little room for the differences amongst individuals; not all are not innovators.
So how is it suppose to be, the few innovators and the many unemployed?

Mar. 22 2012 12:43 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I don't worry about the rise of China and INdia at all, except that as your guest says, there will be rising prices on oil and other commodities and this will life tough in America in particular because of our crazy suburbanized "American dream" lifestyle that is totally based on wasting energy in cars and oversized homes. Now that energy will only be going up in price, Americans are going to suffer more and more. However, the fact that now we can sit home and watch movies and play games galore over the internet balances that off to an extent. More people will be working from home using the internet. But the era of wasting gas and fuel oil because they were cheap is almost over, and will be totally over soon.

Mar. 22 2012 12:37 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Oh well, you lost me with your stance on GMO's. GMO's are a huge problem and there is a reason why other countries have banned them.

Mar. 22 2012 12:34 PM

Someone got a billion taxpayers' dollars from Solindra. Why exactly we should ignore it? For a possible solution from J. Craig Venter?

Who is paying you, Vijay?

Mar. 22 2012 12:34 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Mr. Vaitheeswaran's citing of Japan's earlier economic rise as a reason not to worry about China's current one raises the issue of what each country's rise was based on. As far as I remember, Japan didn't use forced labor, horrible working conditions, & severe political repression to produce cheap (& sometimes dangerous) products. It seems to me those problems are much more "wicked" than the economic ones Mr. Vaitheeswaran is applying that term to.

Mar. 22 2012 12:30 PM

"redefine what manufacturing means". Exactly what I expected! War is peace, left is right... Newspeak galore...

Mar. 22 2012 12:30 PM
Ed from Larchmont

China is losing its young population quickly, so it's days are numbered.

Mar. 22 2012 12:29 PM

Financial "innovation" was the cause of current financial crisis. Eat this Vijay...

Mar. 22 2012 12:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Many old innovations came from China and India to the West. Silks came from China; the compass probably came from China; gunpowder came from China; porcelain came from China; the "Arabic" numeral system came from India via the Arabs, and many others. So innovations coming from the Far East on to the West is not that recent.

Mar. 22 2012 12:23 PM

In summary Vijay's message - "let them eat innovation"...

Mar. 22 2012 12:23 PM

On the basis of what the author just said about openness, the US comes out very poorly. The Obama administration has _accelerated_ government secrecy. I don't know of _any_ economist who thinks that the current intellectual property land-grabbing by the medical industry, high-tech, etc., is good for innovation.

Here's a classic: Years ago, clever individuals in India developed a prosthetic foot that was vastly superior to anything in the US. Why? Sadly, a lot of accidental amputations in India and a lot of people walking barefoot. American industry fought to _ban_ the Indian device in the US. And they succeeded. So much for US receptivity to innovation.

Mar. 22 2012 12:21 PM

I assume Mr. Vaitheeswaran gives some account of innovation in his book. Without one, there is no way whatsoever to evaluate whether his claims are correct. There are quite a few economists who argue that the rate of technological change has been slowing for at least 20 years.

(And as I write this, the author is answering my point.)

Mar. 22 2012 12:17 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Super-urbanization is wonderful, but will be very painful for America which over the last 60 years lived on this great myth called "the American dream," meaning the vast suburbanization and moving of tens of millions out of cities and into farmland that took place in the post-WWII era fuelled by relatively cheap oil prices. Now that era of cheap energy is over, and the collapse of suburbia is ongoing, the US is in a conundrum due all of the wasted tens of trillions that went into building this false "American dream" society. We are in deep debt not because of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but mainly because of the vast amounts of capital wasted on this suburbanization craze that started around 1948 and has come come to a crashing halt in 2008. Sixty years of insanity, IMO.

Mar. 22 2012 12:16 PM

I expect nothing but newspeak buzzword galore with stupefying conclusions repeated like dead mantra from this flat world society member...

Just look at the first "rule" - "China rise does not mean America's decline". I think the current economic crisis should have given this "best and brightest" author some food for thought...

Mar. 22 2012 12:07 PM

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