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the innovator’s dilema


Art (Photo credit: A.Currell)

Have you ever met people who have got an eye for identifying a problem and proposing a practical and workable solution to that problem? Not just one or two, or three problems, tens of problems!

Innovators, some would say, can see how certain changes to certain things can improve those things for the better. Even though they appear to be few in number these days, I’m quite sure most people have met them as they are in all walks of life, from brick-laying and agriculture to astrophysics and artificial intelligence. Here’s  a clue: once they get talking about their interests, they can get rather carried away.

What troubles me though is not the rarity or indulgences of innovators, but how some people respond to them, or their skills/ talent. Instead of appreciating or offering to help in some way, often some people feel threatened, and there is what appears to be a hostility. An animosity that sounds something like “don’t want to know”, “that’s a no-goer”, “it’s not going to sell”, “it would be too difficult to implement”, “don’t like him/her”, “how come he’s done that..how can someone like him do that…”, “who does she think she is” , “we don’t have the money for it”, “he’s not one of us”, “he didn’t fulfill this one criteria..”…etc.

While I agree that an objective non-discriminatory analysis, within reason, and in respect of various principles (i.e. demand, ease of production/ sourcing raw materials, communication links, market zeitgeist, etc.) is necessary in order to gauge an innovation’s prospects, these are not always the real obstacles to innovators, and sometimes the smallest anomally can be used against a perfectly good idea some innovator is pushing.

What you will find, if you look closely then, are thousands of creative sorts rotting away, in old warehouses, on creative sofas, in cheap accomodation, or even homeless; people with incredible talents and skills, who could be cultivated, and their skills sharpened and developed, who are instead being denied a chance, because of, well, financial reasons, bureaucratic reasons, political hysteria, or some other pathetic excuse???

Innovators are not holier than thou droids as some mistake them for. But unlike non-innovators, who are commonly the architects of the obstacles, most innovators have different eyes; A rare quality to see where the gaps in society are, and to propose workable solutions.

Irrespective of whether such a state of mind is hereditary, environmental or acquired through a discipline or a studious lifestyle, it is most surely the case that their solutions are useful and good for humanity because they often make life easier, cheaper, safer, more enjoyable, more bearable,  more livable…



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