Creative Destruction Theory: Deconstructed for the Digital Economy
In the new global digital economy, where innovative ideas are the death of those which have become obsolete, a creative destruction theory lacking mindfulness and human empathy is no longer sustainable. Thomas Edison once said, "There's a way to do it better -- find it". Such tenacity among todays creative minds will be critical towards advancement in the fields of education, entrepreneurship, and international economic development. As the sustainability of globalization has reached its tipping point, only through the balanced creation of new modes of thought and the intelligent eradication of old ones, will we ensure the continued evolution of the human condition.
The term "creative destruction," was coined by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, to describe the process of progress in a free market capitalist system, in which entire industries, processes, and modes of thinking are constantly being destroyed and replaced by new ones. The positive side of such a chaotic method of achieving innovation, is that new jobs are created, over time global citizens benefit from new and better products, thus increasing the quality of life; and entire economies become more affluent and productive. However, there are negative impacts of such progress, leaving many within an advancing society behind, who are not included within the growth strategy, or the strategic implementation of such growth. Yet, if all of the worlds citizens were indiscriminately included within the blueprint of societal advancement, then more minds would be allowed to create, therefore excelling human advancement, and any resulting creative destruction becomes less destructive and more productive.
In the field of education, many developed nations are falling behind, having narrowly tailored their educational systems to produce human capital that merely memorizes information and regurgitates it on command. This form of education is not only robotic and archaic, but it is simply dead to a digital economy. In an era where knowledge is gold, similar to a raw material uncrafted, unadapted, and under-utilized, knowledge without implementation or creative application is no different than a precious metal undiscovered. The digital-age has brought knowledge within the grasp of the masses, but without teaching them how to apply it creatively, the result is not creative destruction and advancement, but simply the destruction of true advancement.
Globally, entrepreneurship has taken the forefront of discussions and has become the silver bullet for issues ranging from unemployment and poverty to social unrest. Entrepreneurship encourages innovation and thus the advancement of civilization, but many nations around the world still have yet to equitably disseminate the patterns of thought and behavior necessary to find success in entrepreneurship. Furthermore, fair access to the adequate capital needed to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, in most cases has yet to become a reality, keeping the majority of the worlds citizens from competing in the global marketplace. As a result, the process of creative destruction has once again become more destructive than creative or productive.
Today, economic development is often the focal point of bringing underdeveloped nations into the digital-age, and propelling more developed nations beyond. The basis of economic progress for the past century has hinged on the development of natural resources, rather than the development of human beings. Whether you believe in creationism or evolution, it is the human being that is at the crown of earthly existence. And as long as we treat raw resources as being more important than the human resources that mine or extract them, our overall progress as a species will continue upon a destructive path, rather than one where mindful creation is acknowledged as the epitome of human existence.
In the tumultuousness, chaos, and instability which has come to characterize the current digital economy, the creative destruction theory must be buffered by holistic thought and human empathy, if destruction is to be minimized and we are to create solutions that further and benefit all of creation. It will be through the adequate and just education of the worlds human resources, that international citizens will be prepared to thrive in the competitive global marketplace of today. It will be the result of the equal access to monetary resources and knowledge innovatively and sustainably applied, that entrepreneurship will become a powerful ship, cutting through the frozen waters of unemployment, poverty, and social unrest. Only when the emphasis upon the importance of human capital in contrast to the development of natural resources becomes ubiquitous, will the resiliency and sustainability of global economies be realized. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." It is my hope that we heed the words of a brilliant scientist, and in the process discover the true potential that exists within a more unified and empathetic view of our collective destiny.
Ean Garrett, J.D., is the author of two books, "Rebirth of a Dream" and "The Immovable Race", as well as the Chief Innovation Officer of the consulting firm, Infinite 8 Institute, L3C, specializing in education and social innovation. Follow him on Twitter & IG: @eangarrett