Jeff DeGraff

Jeff DeGraff got his nickname, the Dean of Innovation, because of his influence on the field. Dr. DeGraff is Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Jeff’s research and writing focuses on leading innovation. He is the author of several books. His public television program Innovation You introduced his ideas about innovation to viewers across America.

Jeff’s opinions on contemporary business matters are covered by Fortune, Wired and the Wall Street Journal to name a few. Jeff writes a syndicated column on leading innovation for Inc. magazine.

Professor DeGraff is the creator of the Certified Professional Innovator Program at the University of Michigan. This certificate program develops innovation leaders through an integrated curriculum and practicum of assessments, on-line modules, project jumpstarts and coaching.

DeGraff founded a leading innovation institute, Innovatrium, with labs in Ann Arbor and Atlanta. He has consulted with hundreds of the world’s most prominent firms and has developed a broad array of widely used innovation methodologies and tools. You can follow Jeff on his LinkedIn Influencer column.

Learn more about Jeff and his work here.

The Next Idea

In a recent interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates created quite a stir when he suggested that robots be taxed because society will not be able to manage the speed and magnitude of the impending automation of everything.

While his intent was to suggest ways to stave off the massive social unrest that will surely come with wholesale unemployment, it wasn’t a week before the editorial staffs at the Economist and BusinessWeek weighed in on impracticality of the idea, saying it would slow down technology investment and automation rates, and seriously damage American competitiveness.

The Next Idea

In the early 1990s, I visited billionaire George Soros’ office in New York City to provide some direction on an investment his firm had made in a technology startup run by senior Israeli Air Force officers. Their technology was something akin to an iPod, and this was almost a decade before you could store your entire music collection on a device the size of a bar of soap.

The Next Idea

A few years before the Great Recession, I was an advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank. I provided some limited advice on how to stimulate growth through innovation. It was too little, too late. Many financial experts far more capable than myself tried to help prevent the imminent collapse. But the politicians were sure they knew more about our economic system than the experts. Hindsight proves they knew very little and it was the everyday American who suffered from their ignorance and arrogance.

The Next Idea

A recent headline in the Financial Times read, “Vancouver seizes chance to lure Silicon Valley tech talent.” The mayor of Vancouver confirms that inquiries from U.S. tech companies have risen sharply in recent months.

It’s no secret that Cisco Systems, Samsung and SAP have recently established a presence north of the border, but now it appears that Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all also considering their options. If this tire-kicking becomes a trend, it will compromise America’s ability to remain a global leader in technology.

The Next Idea

With all the talk of reforming health care, what if we are missing the bigger picture?

What if all this emotional debate about whether to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was a waste of time?

The Next Idea

Thirty years ago, University of Chicago Professor Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind. The book deconstructed higher education’s failure to prepare students with the knowledge necessary to lead enlightened lives. Bloom’s emphasis on reading the Great Books was met with adulation by conservatives, who viewed it as a declaration of traditional values, and with condemnation by progressives who thought the work was a perpetuation of social class inequities.