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Innovation: It’s all about seeing David in the block of marble

Think about the great innovators for a moment. They’re different. Whatever field they’re in, they don’t just look at the world, they see it.

Great innovators are constantly trying to fix things, even if they have to break them first. They’re the kid who tears apart his remote control car in a bid to try to make it go faster, all grown up.

Om Malik from GigaOm writes:

The present isn’t as interesting to most of us who live here, mostly because that would mean accepting the status quo. Instead, guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey want to rearrange the world to fit the future they want to live in.

I think Malik is stating the obvious. To be innovative you have to search out the cracks, challenge the way things are accepted in the present. It’s a task that’s often done best by outsiders.

For example, journalists would have never invented blogging. “What, republish other people’s news stories and give them links and credit?” Never.

Journalists would never have invented news aggregators. “What, republish other people’s news story headlines?” Never. Journalists are taught to get the whole story first. You’d get kicked out of every newsroom in the country, and into Sunday, if you had proposed doing that.

But outsiders did do those things and more, and in the process helped to remake journalism and that’s to be celebrated because we now have a hugely inventive, creative medium. Now we can do things with digital media that have never, ever been done before.

The media sector is by far the most creative and inventive sector there is, I challenge anyone to show me another. And we’ve only just begun.

Outsiders are really important to disruption in every industry because they aren’t constrained by rules, by the rules of the present. Because they don’t know what those rules are, they don’t know what can’t be done, so they try everything.

I can’t tell you how many times others, experts in their fields, colleagues, have shot down some of my ideas with, “You can’t do that, because that’s not how it’s done.”

Or, my favorite push back: “That can’t be done, because if it could be done, someone would already be doing it.”

I disagree with Om when he seems to say that successful entrepreneurs are able to bend the future to a personal will, that they seek “to rearrange the world to fit the future they want to live in.” I don’t think that’s the way these things work.

The world is too big to conform to anyone’s will. The best innovators see the beauty of David in a block of marble … and figure out how to free him.

Execution is really important; it’s the hammer and chisel of creativity and it’s how anything of value is made.

Author | Tom Foremski: In Silicon Valley

Tom Foremski: In Silicon Valley
Tom Foremski is a former Financial Times journalist and the Founder and Publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher, which is an online news site reporting on the business of Silicon Valley and the culture of disruption. More
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    The “Try Everything” Path to Innovation Strategy will not work if they are too many things to try. Or if you have limited amounts of time.

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