Do We Need an American Idol for Innovators?

by Marco Marsan

In honor of Labor Day let’s raise the national conversation about self-created jobs, employment, wealth creation and…TAKING ACTION.  If a nation wishes to become more innovative, it can only do so when it acknowledges it’s current PAIN and systemically thinks, prototypes, works, designs it’s way out of the PAIN. eg: post-WWII Germany and Japan as prime examples.  Here’s one self-annointed explorer’s point of view on what we need to do now:

First, Acknowledge. Consensus on what we ought to be innovating around would be a good start, identifying what success looks like, looking outside our borders at what’s working and why.

Then, Incent. The way to make the US more innovative is to celebrate and reward true innovation.  Most of us are motivated by the freedom of choice, money allows choice so it is a fundamental to reward the genuinely innovative (meaning those who are adding value through inventiveness) with CASH incentives.

They may still wish to do the work out of their metaphorical garage but with CASH, they won’t have to worry about paying the rent and can free up dendrites for the tasks at hand.

Showcase and Spread. Now this doesn’t mean those higher up on the food chain–venture capital, investment bankers shouldn’t make a disproportionate cut (current day) it means that changing the model and creating a systematic way to reward the actual “doers”, would create a deluge of innovative thinking. Think American Idol for Innovation!

Sponsor. Some very well funded brands (Apple!  Exxon Mobil!!  Citibank!!) could challenge the nation with multiple problems, at a variety of participation levels and create structure around the process.  Market Innovation as a great American Attribute, but not late at night on infomercials.  Primetime!!   That’s the way we think!   That’s the way we innovators roll.  What we need to do right now is structure some big, bold ways to get the country out of emotional and business -think paralysis and into a massive public innovation roll.

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Marco Marsan is a provocateur, dad, author and leader of Marco Polo Explorers, an innovation consultancy that drives transformative growth for its clients with new products, brands and businesses.



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