There are a lot of problems in the world these days. Terrorism, global warming, contagious diseases & viruses spreading and political deadlock. Sometimes it can seem like it’s hopeless, that the world is just falling apart.
But to me this spells opportunity. The U.S. has the world’s most innovative and productive workplaces, and we’re up to the task.
When you look back at history, solving the world’s biggest problems ended up creating history’s biggest businesses and fortunes. In an earlier blog, I highlighted some of the past 150 years’ biggest inventions which were so successful because they solved such huge issues. The top five were the inventions of electricity, urban sanitation, chemicals & pharmaceuticals, internal combustion engine and modern communications.
With the exception of urban sanitation, all of these inventions were developed by private individuals and companies. Once they scaled, government eventually became involved as the impact on the average citizen became the norm. In other words, business and government worked together to make our world immeasurably better.
So how about some more of that? Instead of yet another camera app or game for smartphones, how about some startup working on the problems that matter most? And then working with government to create ways to apply them across our society? I’m generally a less-regulation-is-better guy, but in the cases of solving huge problems, we all need to work together.
Is there a way to fight crime and terrorism by harnessing the networked power of 2.5 billion smartphones? How about a way to let us citizens express what we think about politicians’ plans in real time to try and get congress’ approval ratings up from 16%? And how about income inequality, immigration, gov’t ethics, gov’t debt (really our debt) and health care? These are real problems that would have huge benefits when solved.
I believe the solutions can be thought out and invented by the people in our workplaces. We should stop looking to the government for the initial answers, and figure them out ourselves. Once we do, then government can step in to help speed the adoption if needed. Doing this can solve our biggest problems and create jobs, prosperity – and fortunes – along the way.