Innovators and Advocates

Day 43 Week 7 Q1  Sunday, February 12, 2023

I assume you are reading this section because you are interested in innovation and in being an innovator or an advocate of innovation. 

These are intertwined because, without advocacy, it is very unlikely for innovation to occur. Having a great idea and manifesting it in some form that others can directly experience does not guarantee that it will ever be seen or adopted by anyone. Innovation tends to be a team sport, even though the single solitary creative genius myth persists. The act of creation and the act of selling the creation is not the same, and while there most certainly are inventors who manage to sell their inventions, there are often others involved in that process. 

The dance begins even before the innovation or the advocacy with people who are creative outliers. These are individuals who notice things that most do not. Whether they create, discover, or channel them is not important here. What is important is uncommon ideas need a lot of help to see the light of day. In order to turn insight into income, or vision into value, or a concept into commercialization, the three things the Silicon Valley International Innovation Institute is concerned with, there are many steps.

The first important lesson to learn is innovation, and innovators need advocacy. And innovators usually have to advocate for themselves and their ideas along with the acts of creation, discovery and channeling. Often innovation begins with a two-person team, the minimal flywheel because no one is ever on all of the time. We all make missteps, occasionally run out of steam, and could benefit from support and when there is a team, it is less likely that both of you will be flummoxed at the same time. This is also why couples are the minimum viable team.

In the worlds of creativity and innovation, advocacy is required to champion ideas through the obstacle course called “the way it already is.” Paul Alan talked Bill Gates into starting Microsoft, and Steve Wozniak got a lot further with Steve Jobs than he would have otherwise. In my innovation career, I had to learn how to be an extravert out of self-defense because it was necessary not to be dismissed. Even then, numerous others were advocates for my work, without whom none of my inventions would have seen the light of day.

The titles are unimportant as advocacy and innovation can come from anywhere. Traditional pairings in the tech world often include technical and business people. And roles are fluid as people change in response to situations changing. I know CEOs who never intended to become business people but became engineers first. And artists who never intended to become programmers but wanted certain tools to exist. You do what makes sense at the time. 

But make no mistake about it – advocacy is imperative to break through.