Innovation Density

Day 48 Week 7 Q1  Friday, February 17, 2023

Innovation is like a rocket or an airplane. None matter unless they can get off the ground and fly. If something is too dense, it will not fly or even float. Packing too many ideas into an initiative guarantees it will not be adopted or embraced. In product development, this is called feature creep. A piece of music or a story can have too characters or ideas to be understood. A brilliant visionary can have such a grand vision that no one can understand it.

When you are a creative outlier surrounded by other creative outliers in an innovation culture, there is the potential to fall in love with your own ideas. This potential danger must be monitored. Most people and organizations are risk averse and, therefore, not interested in change. Rocking the boat, while often fun for me, is generally considered a pejorative term. The problem is the people in charge have influence and power, in general, would like to keep things that way. The have’s want more, not less. 

Therefore be considerate of the possible impact of your innovation density. You can get in a lot of trouble for suggesting change too forcibly, often or of large scope. You or your supporters can lose jobs. The goal is not to prove how smart you are or how much brighter you are than other people around you. You may require of yourself a deep understanding of things that concern you. In fact, without this understanding, you most likely can not turn your ideas into inventions, innovations or income.

But this does not mean everyone else must hear all the details. If schedule or budget-altering requests are made of you, think before saying yes. It is natural to want to say yes to clients, bosses, and other customers but think before giving people what they ask for. They may be unable to process what you are trying to provide them with. And you may not want to tell them that either.

There is a density of ideas and innovation that people can cope with. It depends upon the situation. You may be quite capable of biting off more than you can chew. Do not propose programs that could never fly. Be aware of the innovation density at all times, for it has to match what others can deal with. I have experienced this numerous times in industry, government and academia. Even in prestigious places with the sharpest brightest people, there are levels of detail and density appropriate for liftoff beyond which it is counter-productive.

If someone asks you for a cup of coffee and you try to pour in a pitcher, it only creates a hot mess.

Innovation density is like that—practice portion control.