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Innovation Files

Author: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

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Explore the intersection of technology, innovation, and public policy with the world’s leading think tank on these issues. Innovation Files serves up expert interviews, fascinating insights, and head-turning commentary on how to accelerate innovation, promote economic growth, and serve the public good. Expect to hear some unconventional wisdom.
10 Episodes
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America, but it’s easy for successful organizations to get comfortable and stop innovating to avoid disrupting their success. We see this across industries, as well as in government and the nonprofit sector. Rob and Jackie discuss advanced leadership and the importance of continuous innovation with Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business at Harvard Business School and author of Thinking Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time.MentionedRosabeth Moss Kanter, Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time (PublicAffairs, 2020).Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Change Masters (Free Press, 1985). Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Move: How to Rebuild and Reinvent America’s Infrastructure (W.W. Norton & Company, 2015).
COVID-19 has forced governments at all levels to implement changes in their operating structures that probably should have happened a decade ago. A worldwide shift toward remote work and a more distant lifestyle now means governments will need to find different methods of delivering public services long term. Rob and Jackie discuss e-government opportunities and how flipping orthodoxies can (and should) reinvent government operating models with Bill Eggers, executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights.MentionedDaniel Castro, Galia Nurko,  and Alan McQuinn, “Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites” (ITIF, November 2017).Daniel Castro and Michael McLaughlin, “Benchmarking State Government Websites” (ITIF, August 2018).William D. Eggers, Pankaj Kishnani, and Shruthi Krishnamoorthy, “Transforming Government Post–COVID-19: How Flipping Orthodoxies Can Reinvent Government Operating Models,” Deloitte Insights, June 15, 2020.William D. Eggers, Delivering on Digital: The Innovators and Technologies That Are Transforming Government (RosettaBooks, 2016).William D. Eggers, Government 2.0: Using Technology to Improve Education, Cut Red Tape, Reduce Gridlock, and Enhance Democracy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).Michael Hammer, The Reengineering Revolution: A Handbook (HarperBusiness, 1995).RelatedRobert D. Atkinson, et al., “Digital Policy for Physical Distancing: 28 Stimulus Proposals That Will Pay Long-Term Dividends” (ITIF, April 2020).Daniel Castro, “Time to Toss Social Security Numbers,” Washington Post, April 27, 2018.
China engages in egregious “innovation mercantilism,” including massive tech subsidies and forced tech transfer, all designed to have China replace America as the global tech leader. It’s time for America to rise to the challenge by developing its own plan to maintain competitive advantage in advanced and emerging technology industries that are critical to U.S. economic and national security. Rob and Jackie discuss all of this—along with what an Energy and Commerce agenda might look like next Congress--with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Ranking Member on E&C’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee.Mentioned:Walden, McMorris Rodgers Announce Emerging Tech AgendaAll Information (Except Text) for H.R.6950 - GAINS ActDaniel Castro and Michael McLaughlin, “Ten Ways the Precautionary Principle Undermines Progress in Artificial Intelligence” (ITIF, February 2019).Related:Robert D. Atkinson, “How China’s Policies Have Stifled Global Innovation” (ITIF, January 2020).Robert D. Atkinson, “The Case for a National Industrial Strategy to Counter China’s Technological Rise” (ITIF, April 2020).
People have been working on digital transformation of health care for decades, but the COVID pandemic has added urgency to the challenge. This is creating a window of opportunity to reinvent how the health care system works—for example, the United States is on track to surpass more than 1 billion virtual office visits by the end of the year, even though only about a quarter of health-care organizations offered virtual visits before the pandemic. But of course, we still need to deal with important issues like privacy, security, and usability of all this new technology. ITIF VP Daniel Castro joins regular Innovation Files host Jackie Whisman to discuss these issues with Pat Combes, worldwide technical leader for health care and life sciences at Amazon Web Services. Related:Nigel Cory and Philip Stevens, “Building a Global Framework for Digital Health Services in the Era of COVID-19” (ITIF, May 2020).  Daniel Castro, “Improving Health Care: Why a Dose of IT May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered” (ITIF, October 2007).
The dominant narrative about Silicon Valley, and U.S. tech innovation generally, is that it sprang from garages of quirky, but committed entrepreneurs. Yes, but… What many don’t realize is how important federal investments were in kick-starting the growth of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs in the past. Rob and Jackie discuss this history and its potential lessons for federal policy to spur growth in other parts of the country today with Professor Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.Mentioned:Margaret O’Mara, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (Penguin Random House, 2020).Robert D. Atkinson, Mark Muro, and Jacob Whiton, “The Case for Growth Centers: How to Spread Tech Innovation Across America” (ITIF, December 2019).Adams Nager, David M. Hart, Stephen Ezell, and Robert D. Atkinson, “The Demographics of Innovation in the United States” (ITIF, February 2019).Apple 1984 Super Bowl Commercial Introducing Macintosh Computer.Margaret O’Mara’s website:
The COVID-induced isolation economy has demonstrated just how important broadband networks are for work, learning, and entertainment. But it has also highlighted important gaps, such as the rural divide and the “homework divide,” that government policy can play a role in filling. Rob and Jackie discuss these issues with broadband and IT experts Larry Downes, a senior industry and innovation fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Business & Public Policy, and Blair Levin, a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and prior director of the 2010 National Broadband Plan.Mentioned:Blair Levin and Larry Downes, “The Internet After COVID-19: Will We Mind the Gaps?” (Aspen Institute, April 15, 2020).Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, Big Bang Disruption: Strategy In The Age Of Devastating Innovation, (Portfolio, 2014).Federal Communications Commission, The National Broadband Plan, March 17, 2010.Doug Brake, “A U.S. National Strategy for 5G and Future Wireless Innovation” (ITIF, April 2020). 
The COVID crisis has highlighted more than ever the importance of information technology and the tech companies that produce it as many of us work at home, rely on e-commerce, and enjoy streaming video and social media. What is the impact of this on the so-called “techlash” and on broader perceptions of technology companies? What gaps has the COVID crisis exposed in current IT system that need more innovation and investment? And what does all of this say about government’s role in spurring the digitalization of the economy? Rob and Jackie discuss these issues with IT expert David Moschella, a research fellow at the Leading Edge Forum and author of Seeing Digital: A Visual Guide to the Industries, Organizations, and Careers of the 2020s. Mentioned:Robert D. Atkinson, et al., “A Policymaker’s Guide to the “Techlash”—What It Is and Why It’s a Threat to Growth and Progress” (ITIF, October 2019). Robert D. Atkinson, “The Task Ahead of Us: Transforming the Global Economy With Connectivity, Automation, and Intelligence” (ITIF, January 2019).David Moschella, Seeing Digital: A Visual Guide to the Industries, Organizations, and Careers of the 2020s (DXC Technology, 2018).
The COVID crisis has shifted the data privacy debate away from its prior focus on individual rights to one more focused on collective needs and responsibilities—for example, when it comes to sharing and analyzing medial data related to the pandemic, or tracking individuals’ contacts. Rob and Jackie discuss these issues with noted scholar and public intellectual Amitai Etzioni, professor of international affairs and director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University. Mentioned:Amitai Etzioni, The Limits of Privacy (Basic Books, 2000). Amitai Etzioni, Privacy in a Cyber Age: Policy and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).Amitai Etzioni, “Congress Should Suspend Privacy Laws for 90 Days to Fight the Coronavirus,” The National Interest, April 1, 2020.
The COVID crisis has exposed new vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains, as well generated even more distrust of the Chinese government. At the same time, China is doubling down its “Made in China, 2025” ambitions to be the global technology leader. How will these developments affect U.S. technology competitiveness? What should the next administration do vis-à-vis U.S.-China trade relations? Rob and Jackie discuss these issues with James McGregor, Chairman of APCO Worldwide’s greater China region and a leading expert on China and Chinese economic policy.Mentioned in this episode:Books by James McGregor: D. Atkinson, “The Case for a National Industrial Strategy to Counter China’s Technological Rise” (ITIF, April 2020).Orville Schell, Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century (Random House, 2013). William H. Janeway, Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Global supply chains have been under intense pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when it comes to medical supplies and drugs. What should the U.S. policy response be? Rob and Jackie discuss the issue with Willy Shih, a renowned professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. Mentioned in this episode:Willy C. Shih, “Bringing Manufacturing Back to the U.S. Is Easier Said Than Done” Harvard Business Review, April 15, 2020. Joshua Murray and Michael Schwartz, Wrecked: How the American Automobile Industry Destroyed Its Capacity to Compete (Russel Sage Foundation, 2019).Manufacturing USA: Shih’s faculty page at Harvard Business School.Willy Shih on LinkedIn. Willy Shih on Twitter.
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