I believe most people would say that the United States is one of the most innovative countries in the world. And this in no small way has led to immense wealth creation for the people of this nation collectively.
If you think about most of the modern day conveniences we have, I believe the vast majority were innovated right here in the good ‘ol US of A. For example, think internet, computer, automobile, airplane, and so on.
Nevertheless many have argued that our innovativeness and engineering prowess has declined over the years.
One interesting news blog on CNET on 7 February 2008 calls for the need for a “national innovation strategy,” to get us out from being “stuck in ‘incrementalism.’”
The author, a former Harvard Business School professor, gives a number of reasons that we should be concerned about our innovativeness:
- Inadequate public education system—this one is not new; people have complained for years about the state of public education in this country. And while the No Child Left Behind initiative has helped, the system is still not where it should be. As the author states, “the U.S. public education system does not adequately prepare students.”
- Federal grant system—“inconsistent priorities and lacks funding.”
- Overseas opportunities—“there are more opportunities for students and scientists in places outside the United States.”
- Fewer doctorates (and engineers)—For example, “Finland has twice as many Ph.D.’s per capita as the U.S.”
- It’s a free for all—“different countries have different models, ranging from heavy government direction like Finland, to the U.S. style ‘let ‘er rip” system that relies on bottom-up innovation…a better model is a hybrid that involves many parties, including government, academia, business, and entrepreneurs.”
While I agree that we face many problems in retaining our edge in innovation, I do believe that at heart we are a nation of innovators. And this is founded in republicanism, liberty, capitalism, and our market economy, where we are taught from birth that anyone can be anything (even the President of the United States).
Moreover, I have never seen a dearth of good ideas being talked about, but rather the shortage is perhaps more in the ability to execute on those than in the creative process itself.
Enterprise architecture is itself a discipline founded in creativity, and hence the structure of defining the baseline, looking outward and establishing a target state, and planning the transition. This does not have to be about incrementalism, but can in fact represent true enterprise innovation.