Book review: Econovation

The Little Deer: THE NEW YEAR

Having noticed my passionate blogging about innovation, Stever Faktor offered me to ship Econovation: The Red, White, and Blue Pill for Arousing Innovation. And yes, I promised him to write my thoughts and impressions.

The core

From the book promotion
Over the last 20 years, China fed our zombie-like appetite for iPhones, Prada and Snuggies. At the same time, its biggest customer, Econovation: The Red, White, and Blue Pill for Arousing Innovationthe US, found itself in debt, under-educated, and covered with recreational tattoos.
So now what?
Will America wallow in mediocrity like Greece or some C-list celebrity? Or, will our legendary ingenuity save us from Tweeting…and eating our way to irrelevance?
Econovation is a bold, witty response to those questions that doesn’t rely on miracles or government for answers. It challenges business leaders to think differently about the next decade of the US economy and respond with big, sustainable innovations.
Written by Steve Faktor, former Vice President of Growth & Innovation and head of the Chairman‘s Innovation Fund at American Express, Econovation is a trends book on steroids. It’s bursting with practical, thought-provoking ideas no executive, entrepreneur or Fed Chairman can afford to miss.

Most importantly, Econovation envisions a very different future.

It’s one ruled by “producerism”, not consumerism. It’s a future in which real innovators must do more than slide a greasy finger over the screen of an iPadEconovation uncovers opportunities in unexpected places.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Capitalize on a market that will go from making nothing to making everything…for China.
  • Use psychological pricing and some crafty tricks from Google to reduce reliance on tapped-out consumers
  • Sell to consumers whose new identities will be based on what they create, not what they buy, click or super-size
  • Seduce a desperate government to finance your business, then feed you pancakes in the morning
  • Motivate tomorrow’s employee with social currency instead of the green, depreciating kind
  • Upgrade your business and your kids with a little help from Mormons and kindergartners with hacksaws

Econovation is a fresh perspective on a future we’ve taken for granted. It empowers readers to think big, dream big, and conquer economic conditions that will paralyze others. With a hefty dose of data, humor, and actionable ideas, Econovation offers insight and amusement in one, convenient place – a rare treat for a business book.

About the author
Steve Faktor (New York NY) is the former Vice President of Growth and Innovation and Head of the Chairman’s Innovation Fund at American Express. There, he developed and incubated numerous growth ventures including Zync, Loyalty Edge, and Private Sales, a joint venture with Vente Privée. Steve is the founder of Blue Beacon Partners, LLC, which helps start-ups and corporations innovate new products and services, think big, and build a sustainable growth pipeline. In his career, Steve has created several $100-million-plus businesses, generated billions in sales volume, and deployed three enterprise-level innovation programs. Previously, Steve was a senior innovation and strategy executive at Citi and MasterCard. As a management consultant at Arthur Andersen, Steve led strategy, marketing, and technology projects for clients like WPP (Ogilvy), Samsung, JVC, Bombardier, Boise Cascade, Omnicom Group, and PSEG. As a futurist, innovator, and digital payments expert, Steve is a popular global keynote speaker on future growth opportunities. Steve also leads innovation workshops, ideation, and training sessions based on his proprietary 4C’s of InnovationTM methodology. An author with a satirical touch, his latest musings on trends in business can be read at

From my perspective

In the 9 chapters  that make this book special, the author explores the many ways that the business community, professionals, 500px / Photo “…” by popaj *entrepreneurs and persons have to  respond to changes in our global economy and the according changes in associated environments.

He looks at economic trends and industry trends, and analyze how entrepreneurs as well as established firms are able to gain benefits of the global transformation. The author outlines his favored approach, titled the 4Cs of Innovation. His 4C’s are:

  • Context
    • All the forces affecting your business-economic, social, technological and industry trends, competition and so on
  • Creativity
    • Insight-driven ideas and opportunities that fuel innovation and a systematic way to create, develop and evaluatie those ides
  • Culture
    • Adapting, communicating and embedding innovation in ways consistent with a company’s character
  • Capabilities
    • The technologies, skills, processes and discipline needed to make innovation happen

The focus on the first three chapters in Econovation is on the macroeconomic part of Context. The rest of Econovation explores the second C, Creativity and the specific opportunities that will thrive in light of economic conditions.

500px / Photo “The Snow Jump ” by Olivia BellThe content is structured in these chapters:

Its chapter titles are:

  • What is econovation
  • Indulgence in an age of constraint
  • Tawdry tales of a service economy
  • The next decade
  • Self actualization
  • Build a capital magnet
  • Make makers
  • Liberate Micropreneurs
  • Built an “Incentive Nation”
  • Unfinished business

My rating

4,0 stars on a scale 0-5.

This is again a decade of change, disruption and uncertainty. Our challenge is to create a challenging business and professional environment impacted by global structural changes, economic uncertainty and digital innovations. It is my firm belief that for those who place the right assessments and embrace change, this will be an exciting era.

We perform in a world according to Joseph Schumpeter. Remember that he highlighted the cycles of creative destruction animating capitalist economy. The Austrian economist notably pointed to two renewal factors: technological innovation and the role of entrepreneurs.  Product creation, new production processes, new organizations of production, new markets or new source of raw material or energy are often fine examples of such technological innovation. And the entrepreneur is keen on innovation, striving to meet the challenge with his vision, passion aiming for professional and personal benefits.

This book is an  highly accessible description of the US- economic problems and opportunities. It offers a concise overview of causes and underlying trends. It identifies opportunitiesm, on the input and output side. In this way it offers highly instructive recommendations and lessons for every (not limited to the US) business leader, entrepreneur  and professional. Lots of  data presented with insight and humor.

Interested in spotted opportunitiess?

lifeofliterature:The Hobbit (by Capt. Mouffette)

Sell to BRIC’s
  • Shared Infrastructure
  • Barter
  • Remote health care
  • Kill cash
  • New pricing and incentive modekls
Some of you may be acquainted with the subtitle of this blog: Context, construct, connect, compact, changes.  To be really successful, it is imperative to take a more holistic view.
E.g. at the societal level, one has to invest in social innovation.Romain Beaume, professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (Chair of Innovation Management), recently mentioned that for over 100 years, technological innovation has been the center of attention. In contrast, social innovation is an emerging practice, which possible benefits has been identified in recent years.
At the industry level, Steve’s plea for more manufacturing in the US does make sense to a certain extent.  However, the service industry (broad definition) will remain dominant with the consequences as outlined in chapter 2: Tawdry tales of a service economy.
At the enterprise and institutional level, the incentive model needs aggressive tweaking. Consider the insights as outlined in Daniel Pink’s Drive, Barry Schartz’s Practical Wisdo, Umair Haque’s  New Capitalist Manifesto and Roger Martin’s Fixing the Game.

This book (some will claim it to be a true manifesto) is a must read for anyone who is interested in connecting to the changing context in our business world. It is then up to you how that knowledge and information will be applied by you  to achieve your business, professional and personal goals in the next decade.

500px / Photo “…” by popaj *


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