Our Generation’s Greatest Innovator

walter-isaacson-steve-jobs

Few would argue against the proposition that Steve Jobs was an iconic figure who took the notion of innovation to new heights. Many would agree he is the greatest innovator of our generation. This is what innovation means, in Steve Jobs own words:

Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out that they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse.’” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

Innovation – The Only Source of Competitive Advantage

New-York-Times-Logo

As Steve Jobs famously said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation not only distinguishes individuals, it differentiates peoples and nations.

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. As the writer J.K. Rowling puts it, “Innovation is arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

When one speaks of innovation, our thoughts immediately go to the icons of Silicon Valley, the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg’s of this world. We look to the tech industry to be our innovative engine.

But new theories are challenging this assumption. Increasingly, however, economists and social thinkers are challenging the conventional wisdom on innovation. Speaking at the Institute for New Economic Thinking conference in Toronto, Mariana Mazzucato, a professor at the University of Sussex, described the most notable technology innovations as coming from the government, not the private sector. Read more about this controversial new theory in this New York Times article here.