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Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked Problems Hardcover – March 13, 2012
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“Need, Speed, and Greed is an absorbing and deeply insightful guide to the wild new landscape of global innovation. It is a must-read for strategists and entrepreneurs alike. (Paul Saffo, Managing Director of Foresight at Discen Analytics)
“A great Atlas for worlds known and unknown” (Juan Enriquez, Managing Director of Excel Venture Management, author of Homo Evolutis and As the Future Catches You)
“The perfect primer for the postindustrial age….an insightful assessment of the changing global economy, complete with recommendations for how companies can thrive in a perpetually disruptive environment….[An] exemplary narrative.” (Kirkus Reviews)
From the Back Cover
Over the past few decades, globalization and Googlization have kicked off the first phase of an innovation revolution more profound and more powerful than any economic force since the arrival of Europeans on North American shores half a millennium ago. These developments have brought us such advances as the Web, social networking, 24/7 connectivity, and global markets.
But the benefits of all this progress have not been shared fairly among all. It is true that the elites of Mumbai are closer today to the elites of Manhattan than they were two decades ago, but what about Kansas? The hard-working salarymen of the developed world are not getting wealthier, but the economic elites who have mastered the new rules of global innovation are. Even as rural women in Africa and Asia have seen their lives transformed by mobile phones and the Internet, the middle classes and blue-collar workers in prosperous countries everywhere have been squeezed by the new global realities. And as the first phase of the innovation revolution gives way to a much greater transformation, America and other rich societies must find a path to inclusive growth or else risk being left behind by history.
All this leads to the central political and economic question of our age: How can the extraordinary benefits of the innovation revolution be shared more equitably among all of society? In Need, Speed, and Greed, global correspondent for the Economist Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran answers that question, offering the essential insider’s guide to this new world of innovation. Drawing on the best of the academic and field work in this emerging area, Need, Speed, and Greed inspires and empowers readers to improve their lives, their work, and perhaps even the world.
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Innovation is an inescapable byword of the global market for ideas, that great cacophony fueled by Twitter, the blogosphere, and endlessly proliferating conferences such as TED, SXSW, Pop Tech, and The Economist's "Ideas Economy" series, which Vaitheeswaran has led. And Vaitheeswaran dutifully touches on dozens of the theories and stories of innovation that have made the rounds in these circles. Importantly, however, his book is not just a summary. Rather, it is a critical appraisal that does not take the merits of these ideas, no matter how famous their proponents, for granted. In this, the book may be the first of its kind, and much overdue at that.
Vaitheeswaran writes in bite-size passages, each with vivid examples and a clear point. He takes apart a basket of myths about innovation, some more believable than others, and leaves the reader with realistic strategies for pursuing a more innovative future. For those hoping not just to stay abreast of the TED set but also to see where its fads have gone wrong, this is an engaging and practical reference.
To me, Rose demonstrates the power of what Vaitheeswaran characterizes as "fresh thinking that creates something valuable, whether for individuals, firms, or society at large." Almost anyone anywhere, whatever the given circumstances (especially resources) can take full advantage of the more democratic models of innovation that stress inclusion, collaboration, transparency, and social benefit. As Clayton Christensen has so eloquently explained in several books (notably in The Innovator's Dilemma), "sustaining technologies" produce incremental, evolutionary improvement where as "disruptive technologies that challenge traditional thinking and the models that thinking produces.
The title of this book suggests that the new rules of innovation are based on three cornerstones: Need (to extend, deepen, and enrich the benefits of the global Ideas Economy), Speed (to accelerate the democratization of innovation), and Greed (good but only if "a more muscular [U.S.] government plays its proper role so that the playing field of capitalism is no longer rigged in favor of dirty industries, inefficient markets, and shirt-term payouts"). In Wall Street, Gordon Gecko (played by Michael Douglas) insists that greed is good. In the sequel, after Gecko is released from a federal prison, he announces that greed is not only good, "now it's legal" or at least condoned. However, the "greed" that Vaitheeswaran endorses is one that enriches the best interests of humanity rather than the net worth of individuals such as Gecko.
I agree with Vaitheeswaran that, for whatever reasons, there is an emerging trend in corporate boardrooms to move away from short-termism and dishonest accounting and toward the aforementioned level playing field. "That is the foundation stone of the Ideas Economy and the path to inclusive growth, the new paradigm for sustainable economic development in the twenty-first century."
Vijay Vaitheeswaran concludes his brilliant book with "The Disruptive Dozen: The New Rules of Global Innovation." Listed and briefly discussed on Pages 260-262, these new rules combine insights, admonitions, and guidelines for executives who are determined to lead their organizations through a process of collaborative reinvention and transformation. To be sure, that process is perilous. However, the democratization of innovation, "once the preserve of technocratic elites in ivory towers, offers hope that the grand challenges of this new century can indeed be tackled."