Prizes are among the most effective—and overlooked—tools for incentivizing breakthrough solutions to the thorniest problems we know. They have existed since the dawn of man. As modern civilization has grown, prizes have become a tool for incentivizing progress. Yet it has been only in the past few centuries that we have come to view prizes institutionally, channeling human nature toward valuable endeavors.
Americans generally agree that they want their nation to remain the global leader in manufacturing. According to Leadership Wanted: U.S. Public Opinions on Manufacturing, a 2012 national survey, 90% of respondents rated manufacturing as “important” or “very important” for their economic prosperity and America’s standard of living. This survey reinforces the importance of the manufacturing sector to the good health of the American economy.
In 1958, the Disney Company made a short film titled Magic Highway USA, which made several accurate predictions about what transportation and transportation infrastructure of the future would look like, including the existence of Global Positioning Satellite technology and digital highway traffic signs. If Disney were to remake Magic Highway today, what would it say about the future of transportation?
In an increasingly flat world, the competition for markets, business, and human capital has never been greater. Although we have made enormous strides in technology and business, there is one area where we have remained stagnant over the years: education. Our competitors overseas, however, committed themselves to making education a priority—and it is paying off.
The “American Dream” is referred to routinely—almost casually—in our national discourse, so much so that we have blurred our understanding of its meaning and the strategic priorities necessary to make it a reality. Among these priorities is ensuring an ample supply of productive and satisfying work for our young people.
“Made in Michigan” means something. Across the nation and around the world, that label has long meant strength, durability, and quality. To Michiganders, it also reflects the pride of a resilient people who helped build this country and now are at the center of a reinvention that will restore our state to greatness.
Information technology is elevating and disrupting most of the economy, and its potential to transform public sector services and lagging portions of the private sector is obvious and important. When governments do deploy IT, however, they often spend too much and increase complexity without improving service. Witness the botched launch of Healthcare.gov – perhaps the largest IT failure in history. In other cases, public policy discourages private firms and industries from investing in IT and using it to innovate.
Nothing better expresses America’s aspirational ideal than the notion of small enterprise as the primary creator of jobs and innovation. Small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees, have traditionally driven our economy, particularly after recessions.