Innovators and Innovation

Day 181 Week 26 Q2 Saturday, July 1, 2023

On the Nature of Innovators and Innovation

After fifty years as an innovator in innovation cultures, I have now been assigned to write a series of blog postings and books about the nature of innovation and innovators. This series of books begins with an overview of the path to becoming a sustainable innovator and works its way in increasing detail through key steps on the way in four subsequent volumes, in part fed by a stream of blog postings.

A central premise is the notion that the relationship between innovators and decision-makers is, in most places and, most times, decidedly suboptimal. One seeming exception to this is Silicon Valley, where historically, innovation relationships have thrived more than in other places. There have been many largely unsuccessful attempts to emulate the abundance model, which evolved mostly in Silicon Valley. In the last several decades, this model has given rise to companies and economic engines dominating our entire planet regarding innovation wealth generation. Innovation relationships can be very much improved as they are still suboptimal, leaving a lot of innovation wealth on the table. This series describes what creative outliers can do to become innovators and what innovators can do to become sustainable innovators. 

Silicon Valley is not a place so much as a frame of mind, which until now, has not been very transferrable. This is changing right now due to the economic flattening of the world and a global pandemic driving the adoption of personal and business virtual relationships. Much of humanity can now transcend geographic proximity to ideational proximity, permitting and encouraging new productive and satisfying relationships. It is now increasingly possible for creative outliers to become innovators and for the Silicon Valley abundance model frame of mind to be far more transferrable.

Historically there has been a great deal of resistance to change, especially when things are going well. Why chance the risks inherent in innovation when you do not have to? Sometimes you have to because your current circumstances are not sustainable. The human story is one of stress and relief. If you want to engage people emotionally, give them a problem and solve it. This is the plot of most books, plays, operas and pieces of music—alternating periods of dissonance and consonance. The Innovation story is no different. People are more willing to accept change when things are not going well. The Renaissance came after the Dark Ages. Our recent fifty-plus years of prosperity came after the Great Depression and World Wars. 

Even if things are going well, and people do not think they are, they are ripe for change. This is our global state right now. And innovation, or more accurately, innovators, could solve many, if not most, of our problems, including the lack of rapport between decision-makers and innovators. These two groups of outliers generally have different and somewhat mutually exclusive priorities. Or at least they think they do.  Most decision-makers claim innovation is important, yet innovators often make them uncomfortable because they might involuntarily change things.  

The Series On the Nature of Innovators and Innovation aims to exploit this opportunity crisis.