Advertisement

Blog

Is Innovation Dead?

Was beer really the last great innovation in civilization?

Of course the answer is “not really,” but Wade McDaniel and I share a good laugh when he brings it up.

We've seen tons of innovation since the Sumerians figured out how to craft a fermented elixir that wouldn't kill whoever consumed it.

But the argument's been put forth that civilization has hit an innovation wall. I was sitting with McDaniel in his office here at Avnet, where he's the vice president of solutions architecture for the company's Velocity unit. He had just completed a webinar for EBN on outsourcing trends, and I asked him where he thought innovation was going to make a difference in the supply and what that innovation would be.

“I think it's dead,” he said.

Really big innovations are decades old: air conditioning, electricity, wireless communications. Think about jet engines: The time it takes to fly across the United States is unchanged since Eisenhower was president.

Everything, instead, has been incremental and continues to be.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. But for economies to really expand, we need a step-function leap in innovation and none is on the horizon, unless we're missing something.

What's your take?

Editor's note: This blog was originally posted to the Drive For Innovation site.

30 comments on “Is Innovation Dead?

  1. _hm
    September 28, 2013

    There are quite few innovations helping manknid. Engineered organ and many more.

     

  2. FLYINGSCOT
    September 28, 2013

    There are a lot of innovations in medicine.  Look how quickly we can sequence the genome for example.  However when I think of Apple I do fear innovation is dead.

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 29, 2013

    @flyingscot, mediciine and the technology of mediciine are good bets for innovation. I would add manufacturing with teh 3D and 4D pringing, as well as robotics to the list. Maybe these can be argued to be evolutionary but i think they will change the face of the electroncis supply chain in many ways.

  4. _hm
    September 29, 2013

    Innovation is natural phenomena. You can not plan for it. You can strive to solve some problem, and you come across innovation.

    Innovation can never be dead.

  5. ahdand
    September 29, 2013

    True plus it should not be allowed to die. The world of technology evolves between innovations. As long as  the mind works, innovation or innovative ideas will not die. 

  6. _hm
    September 29, 2013

    I do not konw, but some people needs innovation every few months! How can this be possible? Team of people must work hard, may be sometime few generations to innovate something. This sohuld be made very clear to people for innovation.

    You can not have cold fusion planned in few months.

     

  7. Ariella
    September 29, 2013

    @Brian can't be beer. Sliced bread came after that, and you know how people always say, “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

  8. Himanshugupta
    September 29, 2013

    I know that internet is not new but in last decade it has changed the way we talk or think. I am talking about data and its usage. There is bound to have a lot of innovation happening around it.

    I think in terms of industrial revolution, there has not been too much going on in the hardware sector except the display devices or maybe medical equipments. I sometime think that war bring the best out of people but that is sadistic thinking.

  9. Susan Fourtané
    September 29, 2013

    Ariella, Brian

    I don't even consider beer to be something of importance to be celebrated as innovation. It doesn't kill? Maybe it doesn't kill directly, or fast. I would argue the “doesn't kill” part. 

    Sliced bread is useful, and doesn't have any negative effect.

    -Susan

  10. Susan Fourtané
    September 29, 2013

    Himanshu, 

    “I sometime think that war bring the best out of people but that is sadistic thinking.”

    In terms of what? :/ 

    -Susan

  11. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 29, 2013

    @HM, I agree…good work takes time. The intense pressure to innovate can lead to marketing hype, pre-announcing products, and poor implementation. We should strive for true innovation–and give it a bit more space and time than the market does presently.

  12. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 29, 2013

    @Ariella, I don't know if i'd call sliced bread an innovation-but perhaps an important point. Maybe real innovation is actually like sliced bread, moving the ball forward by improving what exists. New stuff is good, but improvement of old stuff is good too.

  13. Adeniji Kayode
    September 29, 2013

    @-hm, I agree with you on that, innovation will forever keep evolving as long as this earth remains

  14. Houngbo_Hospice
    September 29, 2013

    It is not a bad thing to improve the existing innovations to make them more efficient and user-friendly. If we can have faster jets, so be it. But what about building more secure and energy efficient engines, first ?

  15. SunitaT
    September 29, 2013

    But for economies to really expand, we need a step-function leap in innovation and none is on the horizon, unless we're missing something.

    @Brian, thanks for the post. I agree with McDaniel's comment that we need step-function lead in innovation. I believe nano-technology and 3D printing will be considered as next big innovation because we still haven't used them to their full potential.

  16. SunitaT
    September 30, 2013

    Innovation is natural phenomena. You can not plan for it. 

    @_hm, I totally agree with you that innovation can not be planned. We never know when the next eureka moment will happen all we can do is continue with the research. 

  17. ahdand
    September 30, 2013

    @tirlapur: Yes indeed since without innovation there will be no future for anything. The definition of the word future has a part included which covers innovation.

  18. ahdand
    September 30, 2013

    @kayode: Yes indeed and as long as innovation and the innovative mind is working properly the technology will be there to back us all. 

  19. ahdand
    September 30, 2013

    @trilapur: Yes you cannot plan it but can predict it.

  20. ahdand
    September 30, 2013

    @Hailey: Its with the improvements that you figure out the possibilities for innovation. So improvements are vital.   

  21. syedzunair
    September 30, 2013

    Research is probably what drives innovation. Innovation cannot be done out of the blue I assume. One has to invest in research and development only then we will reap the fruits of innovation. 

  22. syedzunair
    September 30, 2013

    Do think technology enables innovation? I think the these days technology drives innovation as research and development is being done using the most sophisticated tools. 

  23. Taimoor Zubar
    September 30, 2013

    “Do think technology enables innovation? I think the these days technology drives innovation as research and development is being done using the most sophisticated tools. “

    @syedzunair: I don't think innovation can really take place without technology. Innovation cannot occur in the air. It has to be based on an existing innovation (the latter now comes to be known as technology after it's mature). Taking the example the author put, the reason that made it possible to make beer was the technology that allowed it to be fermented.

  24. Taimoor Zubar
    September 30, 2013

    I think the answer to the question whether innovation is dead or not depends on how you define innovation. For me innovation is anything that is a novel solution to an existing problem. It doesn't have to be hi fi or very sophisticated – as long as it's new and creative, it counts as innovation. Hence, I see lots of innovations happening around me everyday.

  25. sfogarty
    September 30, 2013

    I agree that you can't force people to innovate. I worked at a company from 2000 to 2010 that tried to mandate innovation, and it was very difficult. It is definitel possible to encourage innovation and create an environment that makes it easier. I think the recession has made a lot of companies very lean and understaffed. That leads to overworked employees who are unable to innovate and be creative, in my experience.

  26. Adeniji Kayode
    September 30, 2013

    TIRLAPUR,

    There is no end to research and as long as research keeps rolling, innovations will keep coming up.

    I,m so sure some aspect of our daily activities where we think innovation is dead is just waiting for another discovery(s)

  27. Adeniji Kayode
    September 30, 2013

    @Syedzunair,

    I  agree with you on that. Research is the means by which innovations are discovered and as you rightly said, investment into research will alsways lead to new discoveries.

     

  28. Adeniji Kayode
    September 30, 2013

    @Syedzunair,

    I think they both enable and enhance one another.

  29. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 30, 2013

    @syedzunair, research certainly moves innovation forward, but first there has to be that first creative out of the box idea. Maybe it comes from disappointment or diffiuclty. Someone encounteres a problem and says, this can be done better.

  30. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 30, 2013

    @sfogarty, certainly overworkedness doesn't yield innovation. At one software company i spoke with they have regular days every month where the engineers are encouraged to work on tehir own pursuits, own development projects that might turn into something. certainly that doesn't happen in the type of organizatoin you describe! That's different than enforced innovation. Nothign is worse than “You will innovate, or else!”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.