I read with interest the recent Perspective from George Epstein (Feb. 16, Page 6), “Creating jobs takes creativity.”
He notes that we should apply resources directly to innovation and product development instead of pursuits such as the space program. I agree with the thought, but disagree with the example.
The space program has served as a focus point to develop methods of manufacturing and new materials, and to pull teams together across diverse groups. Everyone got together and pulled toward a common goal. Innovation and pride in those innovations came from being part of something larger than just “making a part.” The space program provided the vision and kept manufacturing hopping to keep up.
To advocate telling firms “innovate!” then demanding to get a new “gee-whiz” product out on a deadline, under budget, with no commitment that it will see the light of day, and with the threat of layoffs looming is not fostering leaps of technology. Reality is that standard research and development is not a priority for commercial firms. Product liability constantly threatens.
Furthermore, innovation and creation of products is quickly taken away from our manufacturing sector in the United States and given overseas.
I propose that having programs capturing imagination like NASA is necessary to innovation.
We need a larger picture of a project in order to think outside the box, change the infrastructure of how we do business and make new ideas come out.
Fort Worth, Texas