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Innovation As A Powerful Driver for Economic and Social Development

(This is a repost of the blog I posted in the Diplo Community blog [http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig/resources/blogiggk3.asp?IDblog=11] during the GK3 in Kuala Lumpur.)

Coming home from Kuala Lumpur was inspiring! Coupled with my flight being delayed and missing my domestic connecting flight, I'm sitting here in my PC and going over my notes, after 6 hours of sleep...

Anyhow, the session on "Innovation" as a "Powerful Driver for Economic and Social Development," was held last December 12. Lucy Hooberman of BBC Future Media and Technology, gave three interesting key points.

1) Among the highlights were new licensing methods. What was mentioned as an example was the strike of Hollywood writers. Hollywood writers are arguing for compensation for work on a new media platform like the Web. With Americans spending more time online, a lot of US viewers are now fleeing to the Internet. So the Hollywood writers are losing leverage on this one.

2) Another point discussed was a new business model. A specific example given to this one is the album released by the rock band Radiohead. The album, “In Rainbows,” allows downloading of the album on the band’s official website [http://www.radiohead.com] . What’s really interesting is that the price is determined by how much consumers would want to really pay for it. Say, you want to download 10 songs, so go ahead and pay whatever you want for it. This is a classical example of giving away music legally. Once this starts every band that can have the server capacity can start putting their own album on their own and record companies will start to worry.

3) Also, new regulatory models such as Ofcom, can work like a public service publisher. In the digital future, Ofcom examines media complaints and translate these into actions.

The session also highlighted the “Industrial Production of Ideas.” This was discussed by Marcus Mettler, chair of Brainstore Idea Factory. Mettler started showing visual images of the human brain and how such ideas originate from people discussing change. None of the inspiration procedure work. So it’s a must to firstly decipher the DNA of ideas. What Brainstore did was to develop the IdeaMachine. But to start, Mettler explained that there is a need to set up a factory so they found an ideal location in Biel/Bienne in Switzerland. A division of labor has to be defined. This way, whoever is responsible for this structure of innovation can be identified? Then come up with creative and stimulating tools, powerful software and build a highly-standardized process.

All throughout Mettler’s presentation, I had this observation that most of the images he presented showed only men. There’s this photograph of men showing their brain. Shrugging this off, it came as a surprise when a lady from the audience pointed out that although Mettler’s ideas were great, it was quite alarming how visual samples showed only men having ideas. I think the panelists took that into consideration after a few seconds of silence. If I remember right, IdeaFactory stressed these points on measuring what to integrate because the more viewpoints there are, the more opinions you get. This way, you can integrate after. The same way that if you do share, and the more you share ideas, the more you receive – much more of what you can expect.

So there’s a question of what appropriate process to use. In order to communicate the process properly, take out politics from innovation. So… now, don’t ladies have bright ideas, too? I think they have a term to that – inclusion of gender. Innovation involves so many economic and social aspects that it seems too far out not to include politics in this sense. In the examples given regarding innovation, it is always recommendable to select innovative ideas. For example, if we want to invest in energy, we need to re-change energy. Then come up with some policy framework – having the right taxes. To implement these taxes, there is a need for education. Why? For starters, the public needs to know and be aware for such need of taxes. If new innovative practices should be implemented, there is a need for leadership. Have that idea and then simply move that idea into a perspective. It’s like holding on to that idea – a key factor for successful entrepreneurship.

As a conclusion for this rather long blog, I’d like to point out that INNOVATION should take place in the context of a structure that we should be aware of. So what’s INNOVATION all about then? Well, it’s about TAKING RISKS.

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