Management Musings 2.6

I just watched a wonderful presentation on TED from Robert Gordon on the death of innovation. He concludes this talk with a challenge to us all. He asks Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison to come onto the stage and asks if we are able to match their innovation for our generation. Great question isn’t it?

He posits that the American economy might be settling back into the growth ranges we had prior to the early 19th Century? That growth rate was 0.2% while in the years since 1891 and up until 2007 the GDP grew at an average 2.0%. That is a staggering change.

Unless we can have the same levels of innovation then that is our future.

There four main things we are fighting against.


  • Demographics

The key statistic to improving the standard of living is hours of work. Women coming into the workforce in the numbers over the past fifty years have made the difference.

  • Education

The quality of education has eroded in America along with the level of graduation. Canada has a graduation rate 15% higher than the US.

  • Debt

Both personal debt and government debt are out of control. Personal debt appeared to be declining for a short time but has started back up. Government debt is a pretty clear situation                      at all levels national, state and local.

  • Income Inequality

Anticipated wage growth for the bottom 99% is 0.8% which will not be nearly enough to improve the standard of living.

Something has to give. Either we innovate or we are destined for a period of extremely slow growth which will provide inadequate improvements in the standard of living for the coming generations.

The time is now.