President Donald Trump’s memorandum establishing the White House Office of American Innovation sounds great. It appoints his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as its head and aspires to “bring together the best ideas from government, the private sector, and other thought leaders to ensure that America is ready to solve today’s most intractable problems.”
We hear lots of talk in the business community about the need to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. But what does “innovation” really mean? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a new idea, device, or method.” If Trump and Kushner intend to import the private sector’s ideas, devices, or methods into government, we should take a closer look at how innovation works in the business world.
The federal government is a large organization; in fact, it is the largest employer in the U.S. followed by Walmart. So if innovation is going to work in the federal government, it would need to follow the same model of innovation at large private sector organizations.
But the tough truth is that it’s really hard to innovate in large private sector organizations. There are really only two ways to do so effectively: acquire those that innovate or innovate internally.
We know what productivity growth requires: investments in new technology. For previous generations, this was factories full of machines, first powered by steam and then by electricity. More recently it was the arrival of computers, which changed how work was organized within and across firms.
We often perceive the impact of new technology imperfectly and with a lag, and today is no different. We can see a wave of hardware and software innovations underway — technologies such as 3D printing and distributed ledgers will allow manufacturing and finance to become more dispersed — but it is hard to know exactly where it will take us.
Paul Michelman, editor-in-chief of MIT Sloan Management Review
Within the next five years, how will technology change the practice of management in a way we have not yet witnessed?
MIT Sloan Management Review posed this question to 15 of the world’s foremost experts on the intersection of technology and management who responded in a series of essays available in MIT SMR’s new Fall issue, published online today. The essays were commissioned to celebrate the launch of the magazine’s new Frontiers initiative. Appearing as part of both the print and digital editions, Frontiers explores how technology is reshaping the practice of management.
The acceleration of technology has led to remarkable benefits for business and the economy – but what about people earning middle- and base-level incomes?
Join MIT Sloan Experts’ (@mitsloanexperts) #FutureofWork Twitter chat with Erik Brynjolfsson (@erikbryn), director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, as he discusses how digital innovations can create a more inclusive, productive and sustainable future for all. Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly), founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, will host the chat and ask Erik questions that will help guide the conversation.
The chat will take place on Wednesday, April 13, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
How do you get involved? It’s simple! If you have a question or a response to one of Tim O’Reilly’s questions, just include “#FutureofWork” in your tweet.
The #FutureofWork Twitter chat will promote registration for the MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition, open from March 1 – June 1, 2016, which celebrates organizations that create economic opportunity in the digital era.