Innovation Consequences

Day 332 Week 48 Q4 Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Innovation always has consequences. And you may not know what all of them are when you head down the innovation path. You may not feel that you are responsible for the consequences because it is impossible to anticipate all of the ramifications of changing a situation.

Nevertheless, as an innovator, you are, in fact, a change agent. And if you are an agent of change, then you have some responsibility for that change or those changes. Rocking the boat does not always make the boat go faster, and sometimes it makes it sink. But if the boat is stuck in the mud at low tide, you have to rock it to get it out. And if this Tod starts to come back in, rocking it will get you out a little sooner.

The consequences of innovation may be far more serious for a government official than for a chef. We do not expect mayors to make decisions in the same way that artists do. One of the reasons I have become a jazz musician because there are not that many consequences associated with taking chances. This is especially true if you are not recording it but just performing live.  Of course, you may lose your audience if you improvise and make mistakes.  But if you improvise in the confines of your own house and you are by yourself, then the only consequences are the ones in between your ears.

Of course, you want people to hear your improvisations, and presumably, that means you need to either perform in front of people or record and then send the music out into the universe. When it becomes time to graduate from playing by yourself in your house to exposing your musical ideas to others, then you have to think about innovation consequences.

You may have invented a new genre that other people really do not want to hear. Of course, you will never know this unless you expose your music to other people. The same is true for inventions, literature, paintings, and anything else that is an innovation you want to get into a feedback loop with reality.

There are definitely consequences for getting into a feedback loop with reality. You might get negative feedback. You might get positive feedback. You might get no feedback at all. The consequences of these three responses can vary widely. They can impact your self-esteem, your confidence, your income, and even your relationships. So, it is understandable why creative outliers frequently do not reveal their work product, even to themselves.

You may have to compartmentalize to not dwell upon the consequences prematurely because they can hang you up and prevent you from completing your project or process. Therefore, you can understand that there are consequences and still shield yourself from them long enough to complete what you were working on.

Innovation consequences are very real.

Three Big Ideas 

Day 329 Week 48 Sunday, November 26, 2023

The first is that Innovation is involuntary, and it is an extension of the creative fact that all human beings are born with the ability and necessity to be good at in order to survive. Innovation does not come about because a boss decrees it. It’s not a magical thing that only some people can do. It is an involuntary part of being a human being.

The second large idea is that nobody can do anything by themselves. It always takes a village or a team or stakeholders. Stakeholders are other people who have some stake in your success when you’re creating a renovating. The image of the lone an artist in their studio or the musician in their practice room with inventor in front of their desk it’s just very incomplete. All of us need help no matter who we are.

And the third idea is what’s in it for we? Too many people only asked the question what’s in it for me?  You have to turn the M upside down and turn it into a W. Since you cannot do things by yourself, and you know that they were going to be others and part, it is really worth your while finding out what’s in it for them, or what’s it for us, or was it for we.

Now, who are these messages for?  Not as much written for innovators, as for creative outliers. The difference between these two groups is that one comes from the other. Innovators come from the group called creative outliers. The difference is innovators have their ideas and inventions adopted. They have their Works listened to, viewed or read. In short they have traction.  They are in a dance with an external reality.

You have to have traction before you can scale. You have to scale in order to make money.  You cannot be a sustainable innovator unless somebody is willing to pay for what you’re doing, and that means you are delivering value to someone that is adequate for them, to part with their money and give some of it to you.

This may be unwelcome  news for many artists, creators ands inventors. It means, they all need to act like small businessman.  Education is a not-for-profit exercise and ostensibly so is art. They both have expenses and they both need to pay the bills and they both need to be concerned about cash flow.

Even Miles Davison and Duke Ellington, to world-class innovators how to keep a band working, and it cost money to travel and sleep and eat. Important that they each had a team of virtuosos who are more difficult to deal with, but worth it. This was the case at Bose at Apple, where I worked for 15 years. They all recruited virtuosos not just who was avaialble. And they all had to operate a business to stay afloat.

Business Model Need

Day 326 Week 47 Q4 Thursday, November 23, 2023

If creative outliers want to become sustainable innovators capable of harvesting infinity, they need to have a viable business model. I know it may hurt you to think of your artistic output or invention as a product to be deployed in the world, but the fact remains that if you cannot deploy anything in the world, you cannot get paid as a creative person.

I hate to give you this terrible news, but no matter how gifted, brilliant, talented, and creative you are, you have to get traction. This means you have to actually manifest something tangible, and you have to get compensated for it. If you have an agent or a publisher or a boss or somebody else representing you, they can be the ones who own the business model and do all the extra work to generate revenue, and perhaps this will shield you from that part of the process.

But if you want to have the maximum degrees of freedom in your life, the more control you have over your intellectual property, the more significant profit you will have. Now if you make it big time as a world-famous person, then the model changes, and you don’t have to be responsible for all of those things. But let’s face it: even if you are a creative outlier and manage to invent something, get one of the 650,000 patents issued every year, or publish one of the million books that come out every year, you do have to face the statistics that the best majority of these are not profitable. Only 2 to 3% of all patents filed generate revenue. Filing for and prosecuting a patent can be an expensive proposition, and knowing that you only have a slight chance of financial success may turn you away from that expensive, time-consuming process. Similarly, an even smaller percentage of books that are published are profitable.

The opportunity cost for your time and effort, as well as the financial investment required to produce new works, inventions, prototypes, processes, and anything that is a breakthrough, is significant. You may also love doing this, and even if it doesn’t have any chance of paying off financially, it may be worth it psychologically to you if you have the resources and energy to make it happen.

But if you want permission to continue to do this activity you love and do not have a deep-pocketed patron or investor with one,  then you must have a business model. This may sound disturbing to you. It certainly was to me for many years, but eventually, I realized if I wanted to get anything done in the world, I was going to have to do two things that were different than my natural inclinations. Become an extrovert with a business plan.

I had to learn how to be an extrovert, even though I was born naturally as an introvert. For much of my life, I would much rather stay home and play the piano and read a book than go to a party or pitch an idea. 

I found out pretty early on that if I wanted anybody to listen to any of my ideas, I was going to have to go out and present them. So, I learned how to be an extrovert out of self-defense.  Similarly, I also had to learn that of what I was doing was not profitable. Eventually, I was going to have to stop doing it. 

The combination of these two things made it clear that if I wanted to continue to be creative,  I had to learn how to communicate with others and sell my ideas. This meant I had to learn how to make my ideas emotionally relevant to others by embedding them within some kind of a story where the narrative at least hinted at some benefit to the people I was attempting to get on board. If there is no conceivable, sustainable model, it becomes challenging to get other stakeholders to invest in you financially or emotionally. Most of the time, sustainability requires some sort of fiscal component, and that, in general, is not a good enough reason to motivate me or most creative outliers to do something. We tend to need to do something because we want to, and then if it also makes sense in terms of sustainability, that’s a bonus.

This is why there is a need for creative outliers to have a business model to continue to sustain their creativity. This creativity is also a significant factor in creating meaning in their lives.

Hypothesis Manifestation

Day 325 Week 47 Q4 Wednesday, November 22, 2023

So, all of us make projections and guesses about the future. And some of us who think that we are scientists might call that a hypothesis. In some ways, a hypothesis is just a fancy name for a wild-ass guess. But it is also the first step in the scientific method, where you propose a solution to a problem and then go out and try to validate it.

And in order to validate something, you have to do some sort of an experiment or make some sort of an observation. You have to do something you can’t just say oh, I have proven that, and it is now confirmed. You actually have to do the work of testing and retesting until you can prove it is true, but the very first time you get some evidence, some external evidence that your hypothesis might be correct, this initial manifestation is quite exciting. Forward tells you that you might be on the right path. It does not tell you that you are definitely on the right path. But it does tell you that you are not definitely off it either. And not being on the wrong path is a big deal in science.

We sometimes call this an existence theorem. If you manifest something so that it actually comes into being, it is like pinching yourself and making sure you are really there. For if you have not manifested something tangibly, then you can never be sure you are not just living in a fantasy dream world.

Therefore, hypothesis manifestation is actually a big deal. And often, it is a small step on the way to something much more significant. For, we do have to take our grand dreams and break them down into smaller milestones where there are inherent dependencies. In other words, there are things you have to get done before getting the big things done. And sometimes, the pile of small things is actually a big thing.

For example, if you might want to do something internationally, it might be a good idea to try to do it nationally first. And it might be a better idea to try to do it regionally before you do it nationally. And before you do it regionally, you have to just do it in one place in your house to be prepared to do it initially.

But the moment the first regional manifestation is scheduled and on a public calendar, not just your calendar, but a lot of people’s calendars, then you know the curtain is going to go up, and you will have to be ready by a date certain.

It is the first step on a much longer trip.  That external public commitment of others means there are now stakeholders involved, and it is not just your game anymore. Your hypothesis must now sound reasonable to others. Congratulations, you now have a hypothesis manifestation.

“What’s in it for Us?”

Day 290 Week 42 Q4 Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Time for some straight talk. When considering a potential action, most people, most of the time, ask the same question: “What’s in it for Me?”  This can be especially problematic for intelligent, creative people capable of inventing their world and then living in it because it takes a village or, in the case of innovation, it takes stakeholders.

Here is the problem.  No one can get wonderful insights or breakthroughs adopted without help. There are always stakeholders. They could be customers, clients, colleagues, investors, mentors, subordinates, or just friends. In every case, they need some sort of justification to participate. It is not a bad idea to get into the habit of asking the question, “What’s in it for Us?” This is not only advice for creative outliers but is not a bad question for everyone to ask. It would help in government, management, education, research, business, and collaborative creative processes.

If you are only asking: “What’s in it for Me?” STOP and instead ask, “What’s in it for Us?” you will have more success and a better life.  

For example – say during the course of a project, you hire several people. If you take the time to find out who they are, not just what they can do, then you will have a better chance of giving them what they need. Transaction-based relationships have a shorter half-life than those based on mutual understanding. Later on, when a crisis occurs requiring extra and inconvenient effort, the people you more meaningfully connect with by making sure they also get what they need will be far more likely to help you out.

Oh, and by the way – think longer term, not shorter term, because “What’s in it for Anyone?” takes time. It is rarely instantaneous, and neither are relationships.

You want your relationships to be repurposable, not just convenient. 

Ask,  “What’s in it for Us?”

Sustainability Platforms

Day 162 Week 24 Q2 Monday, June 12, 2023

When you are creative, you may embark upon very many different kinds of projects. You may even have multiple careers. In fact, it is likely. But one thing is certain; revenue must be a key component.  Even if it is inherited, there still has to be cash flow management for sustainability. Assuming you already have traction and have created either books or pieces of music or technical components and therefore have something to sell, how will you do this?

Even if they were those who would like to adopt what you have created, there still needs to be some sort of distribution channel. Sometimes this comes about through a publishing company for the kinds of creations second be copyrighted, and other times it comes about the company that sells products into a sales pipeline. But however it comes about it is worth considering that you do need to have a platform if you want to have steady revenue and be sustainable.

In today’s world, in 2023, in general, the World Wide Web and the Internet will be a substantial part of your platform.

Almost every enterprise, big and small, needs to have a website of some sort. It can be a simple as Facebook, although I don’t recommend it if you would like to have a professional demeanor to present yourself to the world.  Part of your digital platform includes, in addition to descriptions of what you offer and contact information, a visual representation of what you are offering.  This means, like it, or not, that you are engaging in a kind of branding exercise. If it is unconscious, it may work perfectly well. But if you are really interested in sustainability, you may want to pay some attention to branding.

If you know who your customers are, you might want to make your digital platform emotionally relevant to them. You do not need to be a source of entertainment, but you do need to encourage them, for there is a great deal of competition in the world, and you do need to stand out. And preferably in a consistent way.  This means if you have a product line of either goods or services, they should have something to do with each other in order to amortize communication efforts.

When entering it to new businesses, it may be necessary to create either new or supplemental websites to not confuse everyone about who you are and what you’re doing. This means you need to have some sort of digital strategy as a unified approach to communication and collateral materials

 is necessary to appear to be professional. Consistency tends to be very helpful when you’re trying to conduct business. This applies not only to your offerings and professional behavior but also to your brand. 

Think about what sort of platform you need to be sustainable.

Day at a Store

Day 148 Week 21 Q2 Monday, May 29, 2023

In the larger scheme of things, the big project you were working on has gotten to the point where you have determined that you need some more equipment. You have determined this by attempting to do some things by hand, which would be for better done, assisted by tools. In this particular case, instead of using your body to do backbreaking work, you could buy some power tools and carefully learn how to use them to stop breaking your back.

So, in modern 21st-century fashion, you get online to do a bunch of research, determine exactly what tools you need, read all the reviews, read all the articles, watch all the videos, and then begin to sit around to determine where you can get watt, and for what price and most efficiently. And even if you go online to the website of the store where you intend to make your purchases because you want to do the project now, not after Amazon delivers, and even if you follow all the rules, make your purchases set up an account, take into your awareness, all of the trade-offs and execute marvelously, when you get to the store and start to deal with real human beings and real equipment, and the rest of reality, it may become clearer that your entirely well organized, rational and comprehensive approach is clearly not going to work.

Let me tell of one such example and how it had a silver lining outcome.  I don’t even need to change the names of people to protect the innocent because, actually, they’re innocent. What was the job that we were engaging in?  A 30-year-old pair of decks hanging on the outside of our house needed to be replaced because the weather in New England is tougher than pressure-treated wood when it comes to mother nature. Apart from changing from pressure-treated wood to synthetic composite wood, which is actually quite nice, quite expensive and also lasts for 50 years, some other aspects have to do with coming up with new learning curves, which is always exciting, as is getting exciting new tools.

Allow me to explain what felt like an entire day at the store but was only two hours, but these two hours had a day’s worth of confusion, frustration, opportunity and general excitement. I spent the second half of a Saturday and the first half of a Sunday determining exactly what was needed. When Sunday mid-day, I marched through the front doors of the huge big box store with my printed-out paperwork and digital records in my phone of all of the purchases and transaction numbers to march up to the service desk where I met Dianne, who, then, had to call Jack, to try then to find Joe, and ultimately sent me to find Pete, where we found the ordered things did not exist in the store, even though I had a message to come by and pick them up.

It turns out some of the things I had painstakingly researched, ordered and gotten confirmation about did not exactly exist at the store and would be shipped to my house in two weeks, except the project had to commence in two hours, not in two weeks. So alternative equipment decisions had to be made, as everyone in the store told me my many improvised combinations of solutions couldn’t be done, as these things were not available. One guy, Pete, who shuffled along with his weight, seemingly more supported by the shopping cart he was pushing than his legs, who clearly did know a lot, educated me about other things that I needed to know to have a good outcome on this project. I pushed my cart out to the parking lot, where I loaded up my car with nearly $1000 worth of tools and supplies and then decided to come back into the store just to do one more walk-through to see if perhaps I could find what I had originally been looking for even though everyone assured me that it wasn’t there, and did not exist, after they looked in the cages where the gear was locked away, scratched their heads, and oh did I mention this was Memorial Day Weekend with a large sale going on. And here’s where some opportunistic decisions were made.

Well, it turns out I did not understand exactly what I needed to do the job because although I had read articles and watched videos and talked to friends. I did not have the same level of woodworking experience as that guy in the store named Pete, who got me straightened out in terms of reality and what I needed, but which still was not there at the store.

On my last ditch walk-through after already having spent the money and loaded the car. And after all of the documents for returns and purchases, and changes were emailed and printed. I discovered a superior alternative to what the website had, what the store personnel thought they had, and what I thought I needed. And I discovered it, not in the right place in the store, locked in a cage with other valuable tools, but under a shelf on the floor, uncaged, if you will, but with some sort of protective beeper affixed to the tools and accessories bundle I needed, which had been assembled into a kit, not on the website or in the minds of the people that worked in the store. By then I had spoken to seven or eight individuals, half of whom were already overwhelmed because it was a three-day holiday weekend with a major sale going on.

Being addicted to steep new learning curves, I wasn’t really in a rush. There is no point in being in a rush on a holiday weekend during a sale in a store full of people, who all wanted to get to the front of the line by driving the employees who work there absolutely crazy.  I decided not to be a native New Yorker, even though I am one. Even though not in New York City, I was in New York State, which is, to one degree or another, contaminated by people from New York City, especially on holiday weekend sales. I decided to pull the 180 of being extremely polite, grateful, acknowledging and excepting of all of the people in the store and everything they were trying to do. I told them, I was not in a rush, so take your time, take a deep breath, and you get the idea. I was different from those they had dealt with during harrowing situations.

The net result of not being in a rush, not being pushy, and not being overly attached to sticking to my original painstakingly researched clearly not entirely informed perfect plan by my standards was excellent. I ended up with better stuff, for a better price, at a different place in the learning curve, and with a far higher likelihood of success, to complete the project.

The old me would’ve been more full of myself, less flexible, and more aggressive and would not have gotten such a wonderful outcome. If you are a creative outlier, addicted to learning curves, as I am and in a rush to work on the projects you have in your mind there are alternative ways to act. Simply seeing, acknowledging and respecting the people you are dealing with may feel like it’s costing you time, maybe even a lot of time. But the entire time in the store for this process was under two hours. Considering this project had been considered for three years, two hours was not going to matter much. The relationships between all these people, who I may never see again, were so worth conducting on a higher level. They will make not only my day but my project come out better. And this made all of their days better, because of not just another obnoxious New Yorker on a holiday weekend during a sale. It did not cost anything in terms of dollars and almost nothing in terms of time. The net gainfor all was really significant.

Just a day in the store.

Musical Conversation Import

Day 147 Week 21 Q2 Sunday, May 28, 2023

The importance of conversation in creativity is difficult to overestimate. It is the interchange of ideas that is the richest conversation. This is especially true when it comes to music. A musical monologue is nowhere near as interesting as a musical dialogue. The interchange between the instruments mirrors the interchange between two people who speak the same language having a conversation. If what each musician does it’s not affected by what the other musicians they are playing with emit, then they can be replaced by artificial intelligence. If the musicians are staring at each other, and not at a page of printed music, fully listening and fully seeing and doing this in the presence of an audience. Then there’s at least a three-way conversation going on. And to me, this is far more interesting than a group of musicians staring at dots on a page instead of attempting to have a relationship with the audience and each other.

Although the orchestra is one of the most magnificent inventions of humanity, sometimes just a duo can be more exciting for me. I personally am interested in the variation, not the recapitulation of what already exists. I do not deny how wonderful through-composed classics are played over and over again for hundreds of years, but for me, when they have already been recorded 100 or 1000 times, it is not worth my effort to add another one to the smorgasbord. This is because I have no expectation of exceeding a hundred years of performances already performed. On the other hand, a dialogue between two musicians who are less perfect in their capability is far more exciting because there is a risk. It may not come out perfectly, and this is quite all right with me, for the risk makes it human for me. I can program a machine to play perfectly, and many do, but it sounds sterile. It sounds just as bad as when you turn the piano to precisely the right pitches as mathematically calculated, which I have done as a younger man.

Great piano tuners do not adhere to mathematically perfect pitches. They stretch the intervals, adjust for the specific capabilities of the piano, and are not perfect, but they are magnificent. It is the conversation between the tuner and the instrument that makes something really come to life. The conversation between the composer and the performer, the cello and the viola, or the flute and the piano is exciting for me. Yes, and the orchestra is exciting, too, for there are different choruses within an orchestra.

There are choruses of woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion. There can and should be a dialogue between them. When there is not, it is not as interesting to me. Neither is a speech prepared as a monologue where the speaker is not paying attention to how the audience feels.

Conversational dialogue is where it’s at for me.

Creative Outlier Business Models

Day 145 Week 21 Q2 Friday, May 26, 2023

What do business models have to do with being a creative outlier? Much of the time, nothing at all, which is why they sat as creative outliers and do not achieve the adoption Innovators do. Insight is imperative. And it has to be followed by articulation in an emotionally relevant manner to your target audience or audiences. What’s that, you say? What do you mean by a target audience and communicating in an emotionally relevant manner?

It is fairly straightforward. If your communication is not emotionally relevant to the people you speak to, they will not become emotionally engaged. And if they do not become emotionally engaged, they will not have much reason to change away from what they are already doing to listen to and take you seriously.  And if they do not take you seriously, they will never be willing to pay the opportunity cost for a new and, therefore, risky endeavor. It is always easier and safer to stick with what they were doing unless it is failing, and then your message is very emotionally relevant.

But to articulate your message in an emotionally relevant manner, you need to know who you are talking to, for clearly, one size does not fit all. I mean, even websites responsively adapt to at least the circumstances of screen real estate. They do not send the same information to phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. And I mean, you are smarter and much more aware than a website, right?

Therefore you have to adapt your messaging to your desired audience, and how do you determine who this audience might be? Well, for starters, it would help if you imagine some sort of business model that might work for both them and for you. If you can not imagine a business model for a particular audience, why are you talking to them? Remember, as a creative outlier, you need to act entrepreneurially to get your ideas or the products of your efforts adopted. In other words, you have to sell yourself and your stuff. This means until you have already made it big and have a reputation and a brand that, someone has to be the one who is championing what you have to offer. 

And do not come back with, well, there is a fine arts market, or a biotech market or any kind of market. Markets do not sign checks; people do. If there is no one you can imagine shaking hands with, you do not know who you are trying to talk to. And it might even be worth writing a paragraph or two called A Day in the Life about this person you would like to be a customer of your ideas.

Just saying Business Models are on the critical path to adoption.

Daily Entropy Reduction 

Day 144 Week 21 Q2 Thursday, May 25, 2023

Creative projects make a mess. They always do, and they always will. The only way to not descend into chaos is to reduce the entropy you create while in the throes of your creative project. Examples of this would be putting all the tools back in the places where they belong so that the next time you look for them, you can find them. Other examples would have to do with documenting progress made and having a filing system so that you can actually find the documentation because projects sometimes stop and start with a lot of space in between. There’s plenty of room to forget where you were up to.

It seems like the only way not to get overwhelmed with chaos and randomness created by inventing and creating is to build into that process a period of time post the throes of creativity to put things back to where you found them.  Unless you have come up with a superior way to store and organize them, which can also be the case, but if you spend 90% of your time creating and none of your time organizing, you will eventually grind to a halt because you will not be able to work on your projects.

And since you only get paid for completing projects, not restarting them, the ability to get organized enough to finish is critical. One way some people get organized is by inviting other people over.  Whether for a work session, a jam session, or a party, it’s very difficult for other people to enter into chaos.

Most of us have a large number of tools,  which may include a large number of computers, storage media and projects. This can be a pretty major effort to keep all these things straight, and it will take a lot of time, just like the IT work you didn’t volunteer for, but you need to complete to proceed. Updating operating systems, updating filing systems, updating passwords, updating apps, and even keeping your desktops clear, both the physical and the digital ones, take a lot of time.

Over time it has become clear every time I drift away from it, that you need to clean up the mess you created before you consider having completed that phase of the project. This is like reviewing results, which is also usually neglected, but the place with the most learning occurs. It is not as emotionally satisfying for most creative people to clean up. It is very satisfying for some groups of people like accounts and bookkeepers, and finance, people in general. This is why teams often have different people to sort, organize, clean up, create, and disrupt.

Life is generally simpler if you reduce your entropy daily.