Insights · September 16th, 2008

Last night I was interviewed by a columnist for the Puget Sound Business Journal, about the financial crisis shaking Wall Street and reshaping the U.S. Presidential election. I reprised much of the previous blog entry, and concluded that an amazing series of bad decisions are now cascading into this debacle, with a variety of unintended consequences. As a futurist speaker, I am always trying to discern what is next, and what are preferred directions. The near term demands regulation and sane banking policies. The longer term calls for innovation.

The columnist (Patti Payne, whose column will appear later this week) had a good question. In the previous blog I suggested that the only way out was innovation. How, she asked, could innovation occur without capital?

After the federal bail outs are complete (tonight we learn that the Fed is bailing out AIG with a loan of $95 billion), there will be some capital to invest, in something. What?

For the answer to that, I want to recommend three recent columns by Tom Friedman, in case you missed them. He had fallen out of favor with me with his bellicose advocacy of war after 2001, but as he researched his most recent book, he made an important discovery which has been obvious to many of us for a long time.

The biggest opportunity in the 21st Century is staring us in the face, and is not drill baby drill but innovate baby innovate, in the next energy era. It is too late to do that elegantly and without disruptions, but as Friedman argues effectively, who leads this revolution determines global economic leadership though most of the rest of the century. At this point, it is clear that the U.S. will cede leadership to others, unless we change policy direction. That is the most critical economic investment issue of the current era.

Friedman, “Flush with Energy” on why we need to follow green examples.

Friedman, “Georgia on My Mind,” on why we ought to invest at home.

Friedman, “And then there was one” on the green innovation imperative in this election.

It is no mystery what is necessary. It only a question whether the forces of innovation can overcome the intrenched interests of the past.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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