Get Ready for The Innovation Economy – 5 Steps for Success

SelectUSA Investment Summit

The Innovation Garage had the great benefit of attending, presenting, and exhibiting at two global summit events related to future thinking, in both industry and government circles, related to The Innovation Economy.

What is The Innovation Economy?

It’s a refined method of economic thinking where Innovation is the center of the economic engine that will drive growth and prosperity. To read deep see Innovation Economics – The Race for Global Advantage by Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell.

The books authors describe how government policy should foster innovation with four pillars of Technology, Tax, Trade, and Talent. Technology, once developed, should be rapidly commercialized. Government must encourage business investment in innovation.  Trade policies must be balanced globally. Then focus to train talent in innovation principles from grade school to university level. This includes federal labs and related US manufacturing networks. The objective is to learn from past mistakes and rapidly commercialize the right technologies to make the US a first mover…essentially to execute an innovation system as a national strategy.

At the Aberdeen Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Summit held in Boston over 150 senior procurement and supply chain leaders discussed much of what was on their minds related to preparing to “Navigate Global Change” the theme of the event. A very common discussion element, regardless of the leader, was innovation and collaboration. Each leader had some element of the necessity for Innovation in what they do…whether it was a major technology company, consumer goods manufacture, broadcasting network, or a major financial institution. All leaders desire to innovate and go faster. Many just aren’t sure how to do it. At the summit, we presented a roadmap on how supply chain teams from big companies can and should work with small companies to Innovate and grow with tech-mining and open innovation.

SelectUSA sponsored by the Department of Commerce, is focused on driving direct foreign investment in the United States. The Innovation Garage exhibited with the Innovation Engineering Institute at the event in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke at the event and articulated a main mission to create more innovation focused jobs based on four objectives. First, having US ambassadors tasked and measured to drive foreign investment in the US. Second, ensure a coordinated message from the US Government of how to invest here. Third, provide a single point of contact for Foreign Investment. Lastly, providing tools and technology to help US companies compete and track the efforts.

The connectors between the two events, re-shoring and localization efforts taking hold, and the potential for an improved alignment at the federal level, all signal evidence that every US based and multi-national company has a choice to make. Engage in The Innovation Economy or sit it out and wait to see what happens.

If as a key leader you choose to engage and embrace, here are 5 steps to guide you:

STEP 1: Focus on growth, not just cost reduction. Over time, cost reduction as the only initiative becomes a strong narcotic to executive leadership teams (and boards of directors) and slowly extinguishes the burning platform to Innovate and Grow…and you won’t even realize it’s happening.

STEP 2: Identify who will take the lead in your company. Drive your teams to generate positive margin revenue resulting in cool stuff that people will pay money for…it’s that simple, and that complicated, all at the same time.

STEP 3: Train up your teams and your functional groups to focus on a System based Innovation Mindset. Technology comes after training. The training starts at the Leadership level. If the leaders are not engaged in the Innovation mission, don’t expect that your teams will be.

STEP 4: Add Technology that captures the innovation pipeline of Core Innovations (continues profitable growth) and Leap Innovations (creates new markets) that are ahead of the customer, enticing and driving them to buy.

STEP 5: Cascade the methods and training to your suppliers to create Innovation Supply Chains and learn to know where and when to strategically “open” innovation from your suppliers at key points in your development and launch cycle. We suggest building Supplier Enabled Innovation™ platforms with tools and technology after education of your teams.

Be prepared to fail fast and fall forward as you go.

This work will develop a culture that is not afraid to make decisions, or fail, and will get products to market faster and get your company on the long term growth trajectory.

Now…Get Ready!


Jon is Founder & Proprietor of The Innovation Garage, a business Innovation Firm driving long-term growth of companies and non-profits. Visit: email: [email protected]

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