Outlier to Innovator

Day 345 Week 51 Q4  Sunday, December 11, 2022

Okay we have already established you are an outlier, otherwise, you would not be reading this. And that is perfect, for it is only outliers that become innovators. And why else would you have ended up on an Innovation Institute Web Site? Ah, because you say that you are simply curious but not particularly interested in either innovation or in being an outlier. And assuming curiosity is fairly prevalent among human beings, it is no big deal. And again, I say perfect, for you are correct at some point in their lives, everyone is curious. Are all babies outliers? Are all babies innovators? 

Well, perhaps everyone is an outlier.  Perhaps everyone has an imagination? Perhaps everyone is also curious. And perhaps we all innovate? Yes, I suppose these are all true? So, then why is there so much resistance to curiosity, imagination, innovation and to being an outlier, or associating with outliers, or being comfortable with being an outlier? Why is society terrified of the very thing it most badly craves? Change is not only desired but necessary and unavoidable for survival. 

And it is only outliers who can and do lead the way to tomorrow. And the most adopted ones of these outliers are innovators.  Innovation is applied insight. If either is lacking it is not innovation. But innovation can be and often is relativistic. Insight in one culture, community or institution may be common elsewhere, after all, the world is not nearly uniform. We can be both attracted and repelled by what is foreign to us, back to the baby’s perspective. Everything is foreign. Everything is new? Everything has the power to attract and repel. And the curious babies are the ones who learn the fastest and probably do the most as adults unless they go overboard and accidentally die instead.  This is where parents and guardrails come in.  Part of their job is to monitor what is safe and what is dangerous for their babies. And to transfer this judgment to their offspring. This is also the job of the teacher and of anyone who has more experience than the other.

Does experience make you an outlier? Of course, it does. Then what is the problem? Why does society seem to reject new ideas presented by outliers? Calling them unsafe and dangerous, even when the path they are already on is clearly unsafe and dangerous.  Not everyone can see as far into the future as the outlier innovator. Not everyone can explain to themselves why change can be safe when it is managed. Not everyone was raised with the confidence and self-esteem needed to buck the tide and set out in new directions. And where does the leave our adventurous baby, all of whom have the potential to be outlier innovators?  Well, it depends.  

Depends on what? Depends on a lot of things. It depends on the context. What is the situation? Who are the parents, the gatekeepers, the protectors, and the administrators? Have they been widely exposed? Are they timid? Are they adventurous? Are they faced with tremendous adversity daily, or do they have the wherewithal to make some changes and fail and still be okay? And finally, is there someplace in the world where a person can go if they are a creative outlier, a potential innovator, or a person so curious they may not always notice the inherent dangers? Well, that person can go anywhere they want, but will it be a safe place where these creative outlier tendencies will not draw criticism or ostracism? And what is the context? Is this individual a freshly minted baby, a sixty-year-old early retiree, or, most likely, somewhere in-between?

This is why SVII has evolved into SVIII. The Silicon Valley Innovation Institute, a regional in-person outfit, became, or is becoming, an international, virtual outfit. Because there has to be a safe place for creative outliers to show up and be supported on their path to becoming innovators if they want to enough. The world badly needs these people, but the ability to well manage the innovation process and the contributing creative outliers is sadly not very widespread. 

However, in 2022 in this new hybrid part in-person, part virtual online world, it has become far more possible as humanity is in the process of transcending geographic proximity to ideational proximity. In simpler terms, it does not matter if you do not live within or close to an innovation culture where the future you can flourish because ow you can access just such an innovative future full of people just like you. Curious, imaginative, often misunderstood, creative outliers marching toward becoming innovators, no matter their life stage.

In order to innovate, you have to show up. But to show up, there has to be an accessible place to show up. SVIII.ORG is such a place.