Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Outsourcing American ingenuity

Are inventive Americans about to become innovation-slaves? The NY Times reports that some companies outsource problem-solving on the Internet:

Dwayne Spradlin, president and chief executive of InnoCentive, said in an interview that the company had solved 250 challenges, for prizes typically in the $10,000 to $25,000 range. According to the Web site (, the achievements include a compound for skin tanning, a method of preventing snack chip breakage and a mini-extruder in brick-making.
Defenders of globalization in the US point to the country's lead in innovation. But what if global companies realize they can outsource problem-solving?

On the other hand, more often than not the real challenge is identifying the right problem to solve in the first place. In my experience, few big organizations have a clue as to what problems they really should be solving.

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SPECIAL COVERAGE I live-blogged the spontaneous Obama victory celebration in Washington DC. Experience what it felt like to be among thousands of deliriously happy people gathered outside the White House. Click here.

Previously, I had been blogging about the Obama, McCain and the US election. I wrote about Sarah Palin on this blog even before McCain chose her to be his running mate. The choice was disappointing, and a possibility I had anticipated.

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