Innovators aren't born, they're made - learn how

Tuesday - 8/31/2010, 6:40pm EDT

Tim Hoechst

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A lot of your time behind a government desk is spent thinking about what your team needs to do tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But often there's no time for doing some deep, forward-thinking analysis of the challenges you may face far into the future.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies is trying to fill the gap, not just for government but for broader society, with its "Seven Revolutions" project. The Center writes that the project is

"led by the Global Strategy Institute at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to identify and analyze the key policy challenges that policymakers, business figures, and other leaders will face out to the year 2025. It is an effort to promote strategic thinking on the long-term trends that too few leaders take the time to consider.

"In exploring the world of 2025, we have identified seven areas of change we expect to be most 'revolutionary':

1. Population
2. Resource management and environmental stewardship
3. Technological innovation and diffusion
4. The development and dissemination of information and knowledge
5. Economic integration
6. The nature and mode of conflict
7. The challenge of governance

"Each of these seven forces embodies both opportunity and risk in the years ahead. Together, they will transform the way we live and interact with one another. That is why we call them the 'Seven Revolutions.'"


Tim Hoechst, Chief Technology Officer at Agilex, recently spent some time expanding on the third revolution, technological innovation and diffusion. Tim talked to me today about what he found during his work.

"I like to look in the present tense, at what technology innovations are enabling us to do today," Tim told me. "[I'm interested in] what's around the corner, at trends in how we approach innovation. Then, in looking out farther, I've been talking to folks not so much about [things like] nanotechnology and quantum computing and the interesting scientific advances we think are going to lead to future technologies, but a little bit more about the models big thinkers are thinking about, in how we'll approach innovation in the future. I like to keep it a little bit more in the present, so we can leverage it, rather than just talking about the promises of what science might bring, because there are plenty of people doing that."