Innovation Multiplication

I came across an interesting video with economist Alex Tabarrok talking about the incredible rate of progress in idea creation in the last 50 years and the prognosis for the next 100 years. His main premise?

“One Idea, One World, One Market”

Check out the video:

The video does a great job of visualizing part of the reason that the rate of technological advance is increasing – there are more people working to create ideas and solutions than ever before. Despite the incredible growth in idea creation over the last 50 years, Alex Tabarrok talks a lot about the need to increase the number of idea creators. Currently, less than 1/10 of 1% of the world’s population are scientists and engineers (1 in 1,000).

If you think about the world’s population as one interconnected cloud computer, and follow that analogy through – billions of our processors are offline. If the rest of the world were as wealthy as the United States, there would be five times as many scientists and engineers.

The United States may be losing its idea leadership, but that is a great thing because it means that the number of idea creators is increasing.

For example, in the ten years from 1996-2006, the number of university students in China increased from 1 million to 5 million. Dr. Tabarrok didn’t present the data, but I imagine there was probably a similar increase in India during the same time period.

“We all benefit when other countries get rich”

  • greater demand for ideas
  • increased supply of new ideas

Who will be the idea leader over the next 50 years?


Braden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies plan organizational changes that are more human and less overwhelming. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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