The Global Innovation Crisis


January 30, 2024

The only thing the world’s overly abundant with these days is chaos, confusion, and conflict. While much of it may feel like it’s ‘not our problem’ on a day-to-day basis, these challenges have not only set up camp on your doorstep, they’re knocking at your door.

In a year where half the global population can vote in new leaders, the acceptance of innovation is essential to the success of our society.
– The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer is the motherlode of red flags for everyone.

Not just everyone in leadership. Not just everyone in business. And not just everyone in a decision-making position. Or even everyone in innovation.


Edelman has published its Trust Barometer since 2000, and in the last few years we’ve seen some major shifts. Trust moved away from traditional sources – the media and government – and into the hands of business. This doesn’t mean that people had an across the board level of trust, however, but it was the only group perceived as ethical and competent.

This year, however, things are changing big time. And you have a role to play.

But first…

The trend

From 2023 to 2024, we see developing countries leading on trust. In fact, over the last 10 years, people trust companies less if they’re headquartered in a global-power country.

We also see that institutional trust is out of balance, with government (continuing) to be perceived as far less competent and ethical than business – by 59 points. Add to this, people believe that government leaders, business leaders, and journalists and reports are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

With the level of misinformation spread during the pandemic, and now hot on its heels is the abundantly available use of AI and other technologies, the people who want to influence and govern are the least trusted. And that’s a huge hurdle during a year in which we’ll see elections in 64 countries, with 49% of the world’s population eligible to cast their vote.

The result is that people around the world are looking for who they can trust. And it turns out that it’s ‘people like me’ – those with the same values, beliefs, and priorities – and scientists. People they believe to have evidence to backup their statements.

Along with this shift in trust comes a heightened mistrust of innovation. Citizens believe that governments have the power to put too much political pressure on science, and that things are changing much too quickly for their comfort. On top of this, people believe that government lacks the competence to effectively regulate innovation.

This puts a heavy burden on science across the board. Historically, scientists have had a communications problem in relating to the everyday person. This is a time for the industry to do a reset toward more transparency, better messaging, and explaining more clearly the impact of its work on regular people.

Restoring trust in innovation

The biggest opportunity we have before us – you and me – is to restore the trust in all that innovation promises. And it’s never one thing, it’s many.

While business is the most trusted to make sure innovations are safe, understood, accessible, and integrated into society, at 59% it ranks below the 60% threshold to qualify for a trusted entity.

In order to tilt acceptance of innovation in the positive direction, politicians and business leaders need to do several things: 1) Provide evidence that new technologies and inventions have been evaluated by scientists and ethicists; 2) Are effectively regulated; and 3) give everyone a feeling of control over the impact all of this has over their lives.

What you can do

As an innovator, you have four ways in which you can help restore the promise of innovation as laid out by the 2024 Trust Barometer:

1. Implementation is as important as invention

Mismanaged innovations are as likely to ignite backlash as society advances. With breakthroughs like AI, vaccines, and green energy on the line, explaining the science and managing impacts is essential.

2. Business must partner for change

Business is most trusted to introduce innovation into society, with an emphasis on partnering with government. CEOs need to safeguard jobs (especially in lieu of skyrocketing corporate profits) and take a stand on emerging ethical concerns.

3. Science must integrate with society

Scientists are still trusted—but increasingly subject to public scrutiny. To build trust in expert recommendations, explain the research, become an active part of the conversation, and harness peer voices as advocates.

4. Give people a feeling of control over their future

When people feel in control over how innovations affect their lives, they’re more likely to embrace them, not resist them. Listen for concerns, be open to questions.

Don’t just take my word for it. Read the report for yourself.

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.