The greatest threat to future U.S. prosperity and job prospects is the insufficient interest our leaders have in deploying resources to ensure that American engineers, managers and entrepreneurs are the best in the world at commercializing innovations and improving business processes.
Twenty years ago we presented a process-learning perspective on what was needed to ensure that America continues to be a winner in free trade markets and a shining city on the hill. Drawing on how Great Britain lost its lead in was the creation of well-paying jobs through superior commercialization of innovation.
Since then, individuals such as Michael Porter have been outspoken about the need for a major public policy-driven innovation initiative, but little action has resulted. Interest in the topics of learning and innovation has actually declined in public discourse over the past 11 years, as measured by Google trends. It should have increased instead.
Meanwhile, the world moved on. The extraordinary growth of Asian economies, in particular China’s, over the past 20 years has dramatically changed the challenges and raised the stakes. According to the World Bank, in terms of port container traffic the Chinese economy has grown logistically from being about equal to the U.S. in 2000 to being four times larger in 2015.