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.