Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S.

A blog in the New York Times led me to Michael Mandel’s cover story, “The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S.” in Business Week. In it, he asks whether the growth in innovation—and resulting growth in US productivity—was merely an illusion. Specifically, he asks:

“But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if outside of a few high-profile areas, the past decade has seen far too few commercial innovations that can transform lives and move the economy forward? What if, rather than being an era of rapid innovation, this has been an era of innovation interrupted? And if that's true, is there any reason to expect the next decade to be any better?”

He goes on to explain that much of the innovation and growth experienced in the last decade can be attributed to the bubbles in the financial industry. In a sidebar article, “Growth: Why the Stats Are Misleading,” he explains how calculations of import prices are misleading and, as a result, do not capture the true cost of items.

Mandel offers some long-term hope, explaining that some innovations touted ten years ago are still on the horizon, but implementing them has been more challenging than expected.

As a teacher of human performance technology, I find Mandel’s primary article illustrative of the challenges in measuring performance, and the sidebar a good illustration of ways to break down the numbers so the person reading them can determine the extent to which these numbers can be trusted.

Read “The Failed Promise of Innovation” at

Read “Growth: Why the Stats Are Misleading” at

1 comment:

slk said...

Hi Saul,

I just tried to email you a personal email to saul.carliner@sympatico.ca, but it bounced back saying the address had fatal errors. I'd really like to reconnect with you. If you want to, email me at slkisber@ucdavis.edu or susiekisber@yahoo.com.