A System of Innovation


We have established that Innovation and wealth creation are profoundly related and that one cannot be sustained without the other.  A huge problem is becoming apparent because Money lives in a complex, global and highly integrated system where billions of dollars can circle the globe daily at the speed of light. Meanwhile, innovation does not live in an equally diverse, integrated and global system.

Instead, innovation lives in the patent system which is extremely slow, prohibitively expensive and full of secret language and legal strategy – certainly not accessible to most people who actually do the innovating.  In the immediate financial crisis where we are printing money at an astonishing rate, we must increase the speed, quantity, and quality of innovation at a comparable rate in order to preserve the balance.  We need an Innovation System to balance the Financial system.

Everyone knows that innovation happens in places like Silicon Valley, Corporations, a bunch of research labs, someplace in Japan, and of course the proverbial “Steve’s Garage”; but these places do not behave like a system, they are not integrated and they often compete rather than cooperate. Everyone knows what money is – but innovation is treated like some sort of mystery potion related to supreme knowledge among the gifted few.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember in the last chapter, the billions upon billions of tiny ideas are basically crowd sourced.  These ideas are combined into larger advances and that process continues until, say, an IPod rolls off the assembly line.   We readily call the IPod the innovation, but not the billions of tiny ideas.

A System of Innovation

Our accounting system is used to keep track of money, it is not designed to keep track of billions of tiny ideas.  So it calls human knowledge “intangible” while the IPod is “tangible”.  Somewhere along the line our culture reinforces this idea.  The truth is that knowledge is not intangible – knowledge is simply invisible.  This is a much easier problem to solve.

Intellectual Capital, social capital, and creative capital are locked up inside corporations sitting behind processes, job descriptions, and insulated from tangibility by multiple levels of management.  The command and control system arose from the industrial revolution, and with the help of Wall Street, is responsible for great innovation advances leading humanity to a global gross domestic product of 65 trillion dollars. However, the volume of innovation under this system is no longer sufficient to sustain the debt that it has also created.

Today, the phenomenon of Social Networks is showing us that human knowledge is desperately trying to become visible, and predictably, innovation in this area is increases at a remarkable rate!  The challenge now is to marry the phenomenon of social media to the financial system just like corporations are married to the financial system through Wall Street.

In market economics there are five components that are essential for a market to work properly; first, there is a currency of trade; like Dollars, or Euros, or Yen. Second, there is always an inventory so we can find pieces, count them, and build stuff. Third, there are financial and government institutions that are supposed to protect property rights to keep the game fair so that the people that own things don’t get ripped off. Fourth, we have entrepreneurs to do the fuzzy math, they interact with the system, they fill in the grey areas, and they manage risk. Finally, there is a business plan so that the entrepreneur can do what they do best – buy low, add value, sell high and pocket the difference. That’s how a market works. It’s quite simple.

Now listen carefully, these five elements are tightly connected and must be present in some way at every transaction. If any one of these elements is missing, disconnected, or corrupted, the system will fail. This is the underlying cause of the financial crisis, the system became disconnected.

We need to make “knowledge” look like money, walk like money, and talk like money and some real interesting things should happen.

The next several modules will go step by step through the five elements of market economics and we’ll uncover as best as we can those same five elements as they exist today in our knowledge economy.  Then we’ll connect the dots, fill in the blanks – and out pops the innovation economy!!!

After that, we’ll discover the new business methods of the innovation economy. And finally, we will talk about the thousands of new “corporations” that will arise. Literally, every business that we know of can be made more efficient in an environment where knowledge is tangible and a great deal of new wealth creation will occur.

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