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Innovation USA - Leaders or "Judas Goats?" U.S. Leadership Please Step Forward

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Innovation USA - Leaders or "Judas Goats?" U.S. Leadership Please Step Forward

Here in the USA the one question begging to be asked and answered is, "Are we simply sitting too comfortably where we are?" The up and coming countries and markets are busy manufacturing most of what we consume. While they are motivated, innovating and expanding, we are well - sitting.

Not only are many organizations still stuck in their chairs instead of examining the effectiveness and long term feasibility of status quo, but even worse, it appears that while a lot of lip service has been given to the term "innovation" action has been blatantly MIA.

Touting innovation officers, teams, strategy and even innovation "days," doesn't mean companies are actually engaging in innovation. Setting aside the publication of numerous books on innovation and the mention of the "I" word over 33,000 times in annual reports filed with the SEC, it appears likely that using the "I" word is mainly a ploy to convince investors that "change" is taking place, even though by self-admittance most executives concede their companies still haven't developed clear innovation strategies.

What does it take to initiate real change? What kind of intervention is necessary? Look at the complaining and excuses presented by US companies when challenged, such as:

  • Our business is more complicated…
  • We need less regulation…
  • That's not how we do things…
  • We can't afford to re-tool, invest in new tech…
  • Our customers are happy the way things are… 

We need to ask: "Really? No need to innovate?"

What about new markets, evolving customer needs and wants, trade deficit with China, run-away growth in world markets, stagnant growth in U.S. markets, and limited U.S. penetration of world markets? What about VISION for the future?

There is plenty of evidence portraying a very different picture and begging for leaders to step up to the task of implementing real innovation in U.S. companies, instead of just lip service.

Domestically, it's been said that while around 30% of companies think they have introduced a major innovation within the past 6-12 months, only 5% of consumers agree. Presently, for instance, the perception is Google is beating the pants off Apple with innovations and methodology - brilliant new stuff, like "Glass." Consumers want to be seen, heard, listened to, responded to and enticed with "new" - note the T-Mobile inspired discussion on contracts - finally.

While we sit in our big chairs at home focusing mainly on domestic markets in largely an unresponsive way, we are losing big in global markets. Director of Tuft University's Institute  for Business in the Global Context, Baskar Chakravorti, recently released a paper detailing statistics and an argument as to why U.S. companies lag far behind in penetrating emerging markets. 

Although American brands are ubiquitous abroad, U.S. companies actually realize only around 7% - 10% of their overall revenues from emerging markets. In 2010 those markets represented 36% of global GDP - why is U.S. share so small while our "global peer average [is] 17%" according to HSBC estimated revenues.

Perception is Everything. Real leadership is multi-faceted, and above all based on communication, concern and relationship with real people - domestically and globally, and within and without an organization.

The great "growth" chasm between West and East cannot be filled by just moving our manufacturing east, negatively impacting even more jobs in America. That only makes Americans in this already high unemployment climate, well, angry. Emerging economies are still the ever-growing elephant in the room. Could it be that many U.S. corporations don't really care about the needs of Americans as workers or consumers in spite of bail-outs?

The combination of continued job decline stateside, along with demand for low priced goods by consumers hit with shrinking wages, plus U.S. companies' addiction to cost cutting to raise the bottom line, may ultimately be our undoing. Additionally, complications like China's government control of their currency, seemingly gives the U.S. a lose/lose situation, while the 3rd largest economy in the world, China - has the largest population and largest potential market, in the world. The Chinese people won't indefinitely accept a lower standard of living. When do we get to sell to them?

What do U.S. Leaders need for success in domestic and world markets?

We are still viewed as the country of freedom and ingenuity around the world, but more and more we are being viewed as … 

See Part Two of "Judas Goats": U.S. Innovation Leaders Need IQ, EQ and CQ

Need help developing a clear innovation strategy, penetrating emerging markets, leadership development? Visit The DeSai Group. Follow Jatin Desai on LinkedIn and Twitter for juicy innovation ideas and tidbits.

Jatin Desai CEO, and author of Innovation Engine (May 2013 release by Wiley International), addresses C-Suite groups, delivers keynotes, leads workshops and joins with corporations and organizations to design and implement innovation programs and optimize existing programs, in the USA and internationally. Innovation Engine is now available in digital and hardcover versions at your favorite retail online or brick and mortar outlet.

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                                 Innovation Engine

 "Innovation Engine will help you build a climate and culture of innovation. A must-read for every serious executive desiring innovation as a daily habit in his or her organization and to drive innovation execution."

-Vijay Govindarajan, coauthor of the New York Times and
Wall Street Journal bestseller Reverse Innovation

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