Innovation is generally associated with technical products. The iPad and iPod - - engineering and innovation in terms of things. We see the marketplace of ideas in terms of products, devices, and infrastructure - - where in a world of challenges from climate change, peak oil, food safety, water shortages, and resource constraints, our focus is the thing. But what if the long term solution to a problem such as alternative energy sources and conservation is equal parts innovative engineering, changes in life styles, and process improvements?
Our training and dialogue, especially in the context of smart cities and infrastructure, tends to focus on new technology that supplies energy, transport, communication, or water. Unfortunately technology solves only some of our challenges. Innovation can be more effective when focused on doing things differently, rather than relying on different things. Engineering increasingly will rely on individuals that have abilities that go beyond things - - individuals that are good at seeing the world differently in terms of the non-physical, are good by developing policies that get at the root cause of a problem, and are good at formulating strategies that can easily adapt to opportunities and change.