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Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy Hardcover – August 13, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (August 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071499873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071499873
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Required reading for whoever takes over the Oval Office in January."
-Therest Ploletti, MarketWatch

“Judy Estrin has zeroed in on the lack of long-term thinking in business and culture that is one of the gravest problems we face today. Her urgent call to action is a must-read for anyone interested in fostering and accelerating innovation in their business or organization.”
-Bob Iger, CEO, The Walt Disney Company

"Deeply thought-provoking. An extraordinary tapestry of commentary drawn from scores of interviews and woven into a coherent fabric about innovation and why it must be a part of America's future."
-Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google

"Concerned about the future of America's role in the global economy? Then, whether you're a business leader, educator or policy maker, you should read this book. America achieved greatness through its ability to engineer, explore and innovate. Estrin provides a fresh perspective on the importance of innovation to our future, and shines a bright light on the problems we face in rebuilding its crumbling cultural and educational foundations."
Sally K. Ride, Ph.D., first American woman astronaut

"Judy Estrin is one of Silicon Valley's greatest entrepreneurs and technologists. If you care about the state of entrepreneurship and management in the 21st century, her book is a must-read."
-Roger McNamee, managing director, Elevation Partners

About the Author

Judy Estrin is CEO of JLABS, LLC. She cofounded seven technology companies and was chief technology officer at Cisco Systems. Serving on the board of directors of The Walt Disney Corporation and FedEx Corporation, Estrin is also a member of the technology advisory boards of Stanford’s School of Engineering and Bio-X campus-wide interdisciplinary initiative. She has been named three times to Fortune magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful women in American business.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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All of that gets answered in this one book.
Charles G.
This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of innovation or plays a role in its creation.
Andrea J. Goldsmith
My husband and I both read the book and found it very informative, inspiring and well worth the read.
Mel & Dave

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Closing the innovation gap intends to influence and shape our approach to science and technology policy more than provide a guide for the practitioner. Judy Estrin is an accomplished innovator, founder, and executive leader, and this book expresses her concerns regarding the current state of scientific research, education, and innovation.

This is not a book about how to make yourself, your team, or your company more innovative. If you are looking for tools and techniques to be more innovative, then you are better off looking elsewhere and I have some recommendations at the end of the review. This is a public policy book; one of many that have come out recently given the change in government with the 2008 elections. Its helpful, but for the policy analyst rather than the practitioner.

A Silicon Valley exec recommended this book to me as an answer to the issues facing our economy in the future. It is a good book at describing the issues we face and the history of how we got to where we are. It's a recommended read from a policy perspective. This book is good, particularly if you want to understand the West Coast view on issues of economic development and scientific policy.

Analysis below.

Estrin's primary argument is that since the 1980's US policy, economics, and responses to crisis have eroded the scientific edge that we enjoyed following the 1940's. The innovation gap she discusses exists when she compares today to the types of basic research and breakthroughs that happened in the 1950's and 1960's.

As a policy book, Estrin does a good job of highlighting the legislative, economic and other changes that have eroded the country's focus on science and basic scientific research.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Charles G. VINE VOICE on August 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not since Tom Peters wrote "In Search of Excellence" in 1983 has a book this good been written about how to achieve success in American business. In between, has been a succession of OTHER books containing one or two very basic ideas written in a creative way to fill up a book, written for a dumbed down audience, that could have been summarized in a sentence or two. THIS book breaks that mold and finally brings forward information about companies, most of whom are absolutely minting money, who achieved success through innovation, and what it takes to get there. And, like In search of Excellence, it's written in an intelligent style, yet one that anyone can understand.

The companies that had been successful since Tom Peters wrote his groundbreaking book understand what it takes to foster innovation and go about achieving it in a profitable manner. Among the many companies the authoro looks at, Pixar is investigated, as is Google, a seemingly one-hit wonder, that, in fact, had to bring many innovative concepts to the market before it was unable to unlock the billions in value it has today. Not only did Google have to solve a search problem, and keep people from gaming their system, they had to come up with a system to allow advertisers to take advantage of the search results (Google's Ad Sense System) and they also had to build an unparalleled computer network to gather, organize and bring back those amazingly accurate search results from among the vast internet in a blink of an eye (Google's so called "cloud computing system").
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ruby's Mom on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Judy Estrin has done a terrific job of tackling a difficult subject and making it digestible without `dumbing down' the issues or the proposed solutions. I also found it a very enjoyable read (although of course it is not a feel-good subject.) Ms. Estrin makes compelling points about the need to improve our educational system as well as fund basic research, bringing in relevant data and results of prior initiatives, as well as weaving in commentary from scores of other highly respected and knowledgeable people. This book is a wake-up call for America, with ideas for both bottom-up as well as top-down action. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark C. Howell on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If there's an upside and a downside to everything...the upside of Closing the Innovation Gap is that author Judy Estrin's vast experience in the innovation scene comes through loud and clear. As a hands-on participant in an unprecedented season of innovation, she had not only a bird's eye view, but was right in the mix. Her stories have an eye witness quality.

The downside? There's very little in the way of practical takeaway if you're hoping to pick up a "to do" list.

Is it helpful? Yes, but not as a manual of action. Read as an overview of the topic, it's great.
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Format: Hardcover
If I fully understand Judy Estrin's key points (and I may not), there are at least two "gaps" that need to be reduced, if not closed: between where innovation in the US once was and where it is now as well as between where innovation in the US is now and where it could (and should) be. One of the important - and most useful -- terms on her book is "innovation ecosystem." In an Introduction that really should be read 2-3 times before embarking on the first of eight chapters, Estrin observes that "Biological ecosystems that sustain life are models for the organizations, people, and forces that enable innovation. Life flourishes because of a dynamic interaction between communities of living organisms and their environment...In Innovation Ecosystems, the collaborative organisms include scientists, product developers, businesspeople, service providers, and customers, all of whom participate in one or more of three communities: research, development, and application. Ongoing- sustainable innovation results from interactions between [and among] these communities at an organizational, national, and global level."

Contrary to appearances that suggest that the American Ecosystem is stable and secure, Estrin asserts, "we are rapidly losing our advantage." Who are "we"? America, of course, but the
"we" could also refer to the reader and her or his associates in the same organization or to everyone on Earth. So it can be argued that, in fact, there are three (rather than two) "gaps" to be reduced, if not closed, and the third exists on a global basis.
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