As we start the new decade on January 1, 2020, you should always be thinking about innovation–doing things that “move the needle” and “make a difference” in your department, your business unit, your company. Let me offer an example.

On CBS’s 60 Minutes tonight, there was a fascinating segment called “Could gene therapy cure sickle cell anemia?” Based on some very promising research, there may well be a cure for this extremely painful, debilitating disease. It hurts muscles, bones, tendons, the vascular system, etc. The mutated blood cells back up as though they are damned just like a river would be damned up. The pressure and pain builds. The patients report the pain as being excruciating.

Let me paraphrase the program.

  1. Based on genomics, doctors have been able to detect the exact DNA mutation that causes sickle cell anemia.
  2. Doctors looked for a way to repair the DNA mutation by using the AIDS virus to carry stem cells that attack the DNA mutation. [Note: The AIDS virus has been “reprogrammed” to turn off the mechanism that would infect the patient with AIDS.]
  3. The stem cells are delivered to the patient.

This has been performed on a small number of patients with extraordinary results.

Prior to this research, there was no known way to combat sickle cell anemia. And, in terms of general availability of a solution, there still isn’t a solution. The research is very promising.

Is there some corollary to sickle cell anemia in your organization that needs to be addressed? What problem that has lingered for some time needs to be attacked and disabled? What innovation do you want to lead that will pay benefits in the next decade and beyond?

Read more of my articles on innovation here.


Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, author, and blogger based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner focuses on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. Dave is the author of Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy - How Build to Order, Assemble to Order, Configure to Order, Make to Order, and Engineer to Order Manufacturers Increase Profits and Better Satisfy Customers.

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