Congratulation on the excellent "Masters of Innovation" in The BusinessWeek 50 (Bonus Issue, Spring, 2001). The world is indeed a lot more than Nasdaq, and your report expressed optimism about what lies ahead. Futures may be down, but the future seems bright.
"Masters of Innovation" cites Bell Labs circa 1950 as one traditional model of innovation. Bell Labs, now the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies Inc., has come a long way since then in its approach to nurturing innovation. There used to be a number of layers between Bell Labs and the customer. That's no longer the case.
Now development teams work directly with customers during the design phase. We also often now use customer networks to beta-test new products before we consider them final. The model seems to be working: Bell Labs innovations are making the journey from lab to market faster than ever, and we earn more than four patents per work day.
President, Bell Labs
Lucent Technologies Inc.
Murray Hill, N.J.
The "Masters of Innovation" article on nanotechnology suggests a video game with nanosamurai entering the body to hack, chop, and slice cancer cells into Saturday night sashimi. When the battle is over, the samurai explode with a rousing "Banzai!" But will the bold samurai then gracefully fade away?
Ichihara City, Japan
After reading The BusinessWeek 50 "Best Performers," I feel that they should be renamed "The Lucky 50." Of the top 50 companies in 2000, only 13 made the grade again in 2001. While this is significantly different from a random draw, one has to wonder how useful such a ranking is to your readers. If your rankings of business schools varied this much from year to year, do you think anyone would take it seriously? I find it difficult to believe so many so-called "top" companies can fall from grace within just one year. Are the fundamentals of corporations really that volatile or does your ranking merely reflect stock returns?
Ithaca, N.Y. It is gratifying to learn that genetic testing will lead to appropriate doses of the proper medication for each patient ("Tailoring drug regiments to fit your genes," Developments to Watch, Apr. 9).
Years ago, the family doctor, by spending whatever time was required with the patient, was able to prescribe the right dose of the proper medication. It is wonderful that science has come up with a replacement.
Lincoln, Mass. It is time for a complete overhaul of intellectual property rights laws ("Intellectual property: New answers to new problems," Economic Viewpoint, Apr. 2). The current laws are no longer adequate in preventing protected intellectual properties from being electronically plagiarized and distributed on a global scale. In the Far East, illegal copies of Microsoft Windows and U.S. pop music CDs are being sold in every reachable shopping alley and crowded sidewalk. Enforcement of IP law on a global scale requires a great deal of international cooperation, which IP owners are not likely to get because often violators are also the beneficiaries.