Repurposing

Day 357 Week 52 Q4  Friday, December 23, 2022

If you are a creative outlier and have created something you feel is of value, it is likely that it can be valuable in more than one context or framework. This is true not only of obvious categories like digital content but even of inventions. For example, inventing a portable self-contained digital instrument like a piano containing the source of the sounds as well as the delivery system could as be applied to the guitar forty years later. Did it have to take forty years to occur, or could it have taken four years or four months?

Yes, a book chapter can become a workshop permitting the ideas to be applied in more than one manner, but it also can become a series of blog postings or podcasts or interviews or videos.

How about MVP, the ubiquitous, at least in Silicon Valley, a minimum viable product that began as a software construct but has moved into hardware?  

The point is when something is of value in a single domain, it can probably be applied in other domains, even if only as an analogy. And analogies are far more than literary constructs. When pressure waves are represented by analogous time-varying voltage groves in a wax cylinder we move from sound only being able to be experienced live, to having recordings And then when the physical grooves move from the wax cylinder to a shellac and then vinyl record the application of the analogy spreads further. And then, when the physical groves wiggles are changed into time-varying voltage and magnetic fields, the recording and playback industries continue to grow and spread.  All from an analogy! 

Remember if you have an idea it too can be applied in more than one manner, no matter what the original domain. And by the way, the US Patent Office will grant you additional patents for applications in other domains. Many inventions and markets are r, innovation repurposed. 

For that matter, the entire file of innovation is relativistic. What may be well understood and applied in one field can be a totally new innovation in another. For example, the application of geophysicists searching for oil by sending sound waves into the ground and examining reflections to determine changes in density and map them into oil drilling maps turned out to use similar reflection coefficients to map out human speech in early speech recognition software and eventually music analysis.

Engineers and scientists have been using the same equations to apply to many different domains forever, and it is not always possible to tell which came first the math or the cinch or the engineering.

The bottom line is if you have a valid insight, it is quite likely that it can be more broadly applied than what you were initially thinking about. This repurposing can greatly increase the value of the original idea. 

This is one of the reasons the action is at the edges of domains. Because insights cross boundaries and do not stay in silos. Interdisciplinary teams constantly repurpose the insights gained in each other’s domains. 

If something is true in one domain, there is a good chance it will also turn out true in other domains. So, repurpose your insights, and you might even find yourself inventing a new field or deriving a new revenue stream. Truth is surprisingly robust and cross-applicable, especially in an age where convenience often replaces quality and honesty.

When you can validate some of your insights by applying them as innovations, there is a decent chance that adoption in more than one domain is a possibility.