For architecting the enterprise, we need good ideas to mature, evolve, and innovate. And good ideas can come from literally anywhere, so we should not limit ourselves to looking for them in-house, in our industry, locally, regionally, or nationally. Good ideas are global and we need to reach out for these ideas, adopt them, and make them our own, regardless of where they originate.
National Defense Magazine, July 2008 reports that “technology flows freely across national borders and the United States depends on foreign technology to secure its military edge, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”
In fact, “many of the greatest achievements in U.S. weaponry were made possible by foreign technologies, ‘whether that is nuclear weapons thanks to German Jewish scientists, whether it is space, thanks to German scientists…whether it is armored vehicles, a British invention, or airpower, also a British invention. Stealth technology was actually a Russian algorithm that Northrop Grumman scientists happened to see at a conference that told them how to calculate the bouncing of radio waves,” says Pierre Chao a defense industry analyst.
Remember, while the U.S. populace has many advantages including being diverse, highly educated, relatively affluent, and having the freedom to pursue and express new ideas, we represent only 4.5% of the world population. So we do not have a monopoly on science, engineering, and innovation.
Actually, “by 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will be living in Asia,” according to Mario Mancuso head of the bureau of industry and security at the Department of Commerce.
Additionally most of our military technologies come from abroad. “In the past, approximately two-thirds of our nation’s military technologies were developed in a defense R&D setting, with the remaining third coming from adaptations of commercial, off-the-shelf technologies. Today, those proportions have been almost exactly reversed.”
Even our most advanced new jet fighter, the Joint Strike Fighter, is a global initiative, “with hundreds of contractors across many borders.”
There is an old saying that there is strength in numbers. The world is 6.7 billion in number and growing fast; the U.S., while a superpower is only a small part of the whole world. Therefore, we need to embrace innovation from everyone that can contribute positively. Innovation is incremental; we can learn from others, build on it, improve on it, and integrate it with our own creativity. Then we are architecting our enterprises with the added force of globalization.
While it would be good if the U.S. could retain its leadership in innovation, the reality is that we can no longer afford to be an island of excellence. The main thing is to harvest ideas wherever they come from and leverage them in ways that help us maintain our technological edge, promote economic prosperity and support the wellbeing of our nation.