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Author 'Nervous' About D.C.'s Lack Of Innovation

Joshua Cooper Ramo has some advice for leaders in Washington: Keep the revolutionary spirit alive.

In a new book, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It, the managing director of Kissinger Associates says that businesses and governments need to have a spirit of constant innovation to be world leaders.

Ramo, who also has served as an editor at Time magazine and as the China analyst for NBC during its coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games, says the entities that epitomize that strategy range from Hezbollah to Google.

Ramo tells NPR's Robert Siegel that those behind the information technology for both groups share "an absolute passion for innovation."

"What they share is this passionate belief in change and disruption — and more change and more disruption, as much as possible," he says. "When you're confronted with a foe that's relentlessly adapting and changing and innovating, it makes it very difficult to compete using old ways of thinking."

"So when you look at Washington today and you see these policies that are maybe 10 degrees or five degrees different from what we had in the past, and institutions that look more or less the same as they looked five or 10 or 20 years ago, you get a very nervous feeling that this is not a set of ideas or institutions that are capable of the kind of innovation that we need."

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