Trump and InnovationThe world of politics and government dominate the news.  Elected officials make decisions that affect the economy and many of the things that we do in our daily lives.  I recently asked myself, “Are politicians truly innovative?”  After spending a little time trying to research into this question I came to the conclusion, for the most part, while they often use the word, their actions are rarely innovative.  This conclusion was not a surprise, but it did beg the question why are they not able to be innovative.  Here are some reasons why they are not innovative, and a way they can help others:

  1. Their focus is not on innovation. – People in public office seem to have motives in two areas, one is helping people and making the world a better place, the other is in getting reelected.  Although increasing funding for education, creating safety regulations, building bridges and fixing the roads may be helpful and may help provide ways for others to be innovative, none of these are new activities.  Governments have been doing these things in largely the same ways for thousands of years.  Also, talking about being innovative may help get you elected, but following through on that promise is difficult, if not impossible.
  2. They are not given the chance to fail. – Innovation by its very nature is risky.  It can only flourish in environments that allow for failure.  Elected officials do not have a lot of margin for error.  One failed program or approach may be enough to end a political career.  The electorate does not tolerate bad results.  A sentiment stated by Edison is common with many innovators.  He said, “Negative results are just what I’m after.  They are just as valuable to me as positive results.”  If a politician said they were looking for negative results in a campaign speech, they may not be giving many more speeches.  This inability to fail makes innovation incredibly difficult.
  3. They may struggle to be innovative, but they can promote innovation. – Governments can craft policies that benefit or stifle innovation.  These policies can deal with regulation, infrastructure, taxes or other areas.  Also, government funds can be directed into innovative projects.  Politicians can work with businesses to help develop new technologies, such as with a recent project related to new water technologies in Southern Ontario (Click Here). Relating to this project, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “This project is a great example of government, post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses working together to drive innovation and create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians.”   Being able to get different groups working together is often the key to driving innovation.