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Revolutionary Ideas and Innovation

Posted by: Reena Jana on April 2, 2009

This week, I spoke with Joshua Cooper Ramo, managing director at Kissinger Associates and author of the new book The Age of the Unthinkable. The slim, elegantly written volume isn’t a business book, per se (although it features anecdotes on figures such as venture capitalist Mike Moritz amidst chapters on a variety of characters from Gertrude Stein to a spymaster in Israel). But Ramo’s analyses offer interesting lessons for executives, especially during a recession.

He talks about how revolutionary, nearly counter-intuitive ideas often spark the greatest inventions. Probably the most resonant example is the phenomenon of Nintendo’s Wii. As he explains it, who would ever think a video game console that offers poor graphics and no joystick would completely overtake sales of powerful consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation? But the radical idea—and risk—of it paid off. During times of great transition, such as our current global economic downturn, companies—as well as individuals and nations— could be wise to experiment wildly, according to Ramo. Here’s a link to our discussion.

Reader Comments


April 8, 2009 5:03 PM

Here is one of those radical ideas: The concept of Ingenesism, where knowledge is tangible in a creative and connected society will supplant capitalism where knowledge is tangible inside corporations, and communism where is made tangible through government.

Instead of a debt backed currency of capitalism, Ingenesism uses an innovation backed currency. Both are proxies for future productivity so the dollar remains valid as the transition is the emerging social agreement currently being carried out through the explosion in social media.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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