This week the report The Awapatent Innovation Barometer 2007 about the R&D climate in Sweden was published. It is based on interviews with managers from different fields of research. Generally their views are positive and optimistic but five threats or “clouds on the horizon” are identified in the report. Interestingly four of them are strongly connected to themes in The Medici Effect. The threats are:
- There is a strong tendency among companies to stay within the same familiar field of research instead of moving into new areas.
- Companies are bad at protecting their innovations with patents.
- There is a shortage of educated people.
- There are very few women in research and development.
- There is too little creativity.
The first point corresponds closely with the main thesis in The Medici Effect: If you take your knowledge or technology into a new field it will lead to a situation where new perspectives and divergent thinking will generate innovation. I will skip number two and move directly to number three – the lack of talent. Like so many other countries Sweden will be forced to take part in the global battle for brainpower; it will be necessary to attract foreigners and make them want to stay. And then there is point number four – the lack of women. Usually the basis for this discussion is equality and political correctness but in this report they actually acknowledge the negative consequences of absence of female perspective.
In other words the solutions to points 1, 3 and 4 are characterized by intersections, diversity and mixed perspectives. According to The Medici Effect that is exactly what is needed to achieve breakthrough innovation. Therefore, solving these three problems is a very good way of addressing the last threat on the list – the lack of creativity.
I haven’t read the full report but in the articles I have read about it there have been no reflections on the obvious connections between these points. Too often this holistic view is missing. Why? Maybe that too is a symptom of the problem of barriers between domains.