I don’t know who will win on November 4 but if Obama becomes the next US President, here’s some advice for picking a cabinet for the 21st century.
First, forget Wall Street and choose a venture capitalist to be Treasury Secretary (yes, getting one from a West Coast Silicon Valley firm might help too). Think of getting a VC to run the Federal Reserve as well. The US needs to shift away from finance capitalism to creativity capitalism and it needs to tap talent to get it done.
So who are the best picks for a VC as Treasury Secretary? Obama’s staff can start by looking at the key VC firms in the valley—Crosspoint Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital,
Hambrecht & Quist Venture Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Accel Partners,
Burr Egan Deleage & Company, Institutional Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund. Send in your choices.
Second, create a Cabinet seat for Innovation to push an innovation agenda for the economy. We need a powerful figure to align government policy on innovation. My two choices here are David Kelley, founder of IDEO and the D-School at Stanford and, of course, Steve Jobs. Since they are close friends, choosing one gets the nation two brilliant minds who know how innovation works—and how to get it done to maximize growth. Innovation is about more than technology and science (Apple’s R&D budget is among the lowest of the top “tech” companies). It’s a methodology that increasingly is based on collaborative networks and ecosystems that are global. Innovation is as much about sociology and anthropology as it is about technology. Kelley and Jobs understand that.
Third, Obama’s people should go outside the conventional pack of economists to pick the economics adviser to the President. The President needs a person who understands the new field of innovation economics and will push for policies that enhance creativity, design and innovation. Of course, that will mean big changes in K-12 education. But it will also mean changing accounting rules for “intangibles” that are now counted as costs, not investments. Right now R&D and education are defined as “consumption” in the GDP statistics, not investments. That’s ridiculous.
So who would make a good Innovation Economics Adviser to the President? Perhap Daron Acemoglu at MIT or Paul Romer at Stanford. Send in your picks please.
I won’t go into the next Defense Secretary, except to say that this person will play a major role in innovation.
I will suggest a Secretary of State—Fareed Zakaria. No, he hasn’t run any big organization and his strength is in analysis—but what a strength! Fareed’s latest book, The Post-American World: The Rise of the Rest, is the right frame to understand America within the global context.
So let’s play a game—name your cabinet. Who would you choose for an Obama cabinet—and why.
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