I'm not just speaking of innovation in the development of new products and business opportunities - better phones, cool marketing websites, desirable cars. I'm thinking about rethinking what people do to prosper in a market economy.
This gets to my recurring concern about what we think of as "jobs". Jobs have been the basis of the US economy for a about 150 years. Before that, it wasn't "jobs" in industry, or "jobs" in services, but working on your family farm, or the trade you learned from your father that defined the productive part of your life. That shifted with the vast expansion of industrial production. Then people got jobs in mines, jobs at mills, forestry jobs, railroad jobs, and eventually manufacturing jobs.
That new model worked pretty well until the shift to an information economy. Now we have technologies that can do much of the work we thought of as "jobs", yet we have many more people who need to be able to support themselves and their families. There are still "jobs" that need to be done. What employment growth there has been, has mostly been in lower paying wage labor positions in service industries like food preparation and healthcare. There are still professional opportunities as well of course, some will get degrees in engineering, or law, or medicine, but even these are no longer the professions they once were. Increasing numbers of doctors now work on salary for giant healthcare conglomerates, not as independent professionals.
But with all these rapid changes, we haven't entered the very fundamental conversation about what people will be doing to add value to society, support their families, enjoy a feeling of contributing to the greater good, and grow personally. We lament that there are no "jobs". We need to get past that. What we think of as a healthy jobs economy is not likely to return any time soon - perhaps never. So, what's next? That's the big innovation question that needs to be asked.