Need, Speed, and Greed by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran

This article was inspired by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran's Need, Speed, and Greed . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.


How Innovation will Change the World as Never Before

“Thanks to the democratization of innovation, the smartest people in your business don’t work for you any longer.”

Today, you live in a world dominated by the exchange of information and ideas. In order to make money, you have to take advantage of the “ideas economy.” Unlike natural resources, innovation can come from anywhere in the world. Don’t fail to anticipate technological advancements. Even when your work is cutting edge, it will be replaced by new innovations eventually.

With most of the world’s people living in cities for the first time in recorded history, social innovation is as necessary as economic innovation. Problems that were once local now affect billions of people.

Technology has made innovation more democratic, as companies encourage “user-driven innovation,” where customers themselves improve a business’s products. According to author Ray Kurzweil, the “Singularity,” a point when human beings overcome their own biological limitations with the help of technology, will democratize our future like never before.

In 1714, the British government held a competition to see who could develop means by which sailors could find longitude. Ever since, governments have offered prizes for innovation. Not only do prizes offer competitors the chance to make significant amounts of money, they also offer prestige for the winner. Competitions cost investors far less than you might expect, and they generate innovation, while bringing in inventors who may not normally have such opportunities because of biases or career paths. If the competition is to work, you must protect the privacy and intellectual property rights of those involved.

While innovation minimizes some threats to health and safety, it can create new dangers when handled incorrectly. For example, climate change threatens humanity’s future as a whole, and the same advancements in biotechnology and nanotechnology that can cure disease could also lead to worldwide devastation, if mishandled.

As the global economy allows countries to become more interconnected, it also gives local disasters the opportunity to affect worldwide trade. Consider the Japanese tsunami in 2011. One nation’s disaster can have global implications.

Innovation will address such concerns, as multidisciplinary teams work to make predicting and preparing for disaster better suited to current global needs. In order for worldwide problems to truly solved, countries will share information like never before, and boundaries between nations will disappear.

If countries wish for innovation to make an economic difference, they will have to properly reward and support those who innovate. Europe, for example, overregulates its markets, making it needlessly difficult for innovators to startup businesses. Following 9-1-1, the US has discouraged immigration, preventing innovators from entering the country. Rather than investing in every organization that demonstrates innovation, the US should focus on those that consistently produce results.

Large companies may not have the greatest innovations, but they can implement them better than smaller organizations. Corporations will start to use new inventions for more than making money, as altruism is encouraged and changing the world will motivate innovation.

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