The entrepreneur is often seen as an Innovator. However, what do we mean when we use the word “Innovation?” What do you think about when you hear Innovation?
One of the best books I’ve read in the past year on this subject is by Matt Ridley, How Innovation Works: And Why it Flourishes in Freedom.
According to Ridley, Innovation:
- Is a process of constantly discovering ways to rearrange the world that are unlikely to arise by chance and that happen to be useful.
- Is finding new ways to apply energy to create improbable things, and see them catch on. It means much more than invention -- the word innovation implies developing an invention to the point where it catches on.
- Is perhaps the most important fact about the modern world, but one of the least well understood
- Happens when people are free to think, experiment, and speculate.
- Happens when people can trade with each other.
- Happens when people are relatively prosperous, not desperate.
- Is mysterious – no economist or social scientist can fully explain why innovation happens, let alone why it happens when and where it does.
- Is a team sport, a collective enterprise; very few work alone to create innovation.
- Changes our lives, chiefly, by enabling people to work for each other; it moves us away from self-sufficiency to interdependence.
- Has made it possible to work for a fraction of time than if you labored yourself to make something - such as the amount of energy possible to power a light bulb.
- Is a gradual process, most of the time.
- Is popular in lip service – but not popularly accepted; there is often much resistance to innovation. Obstacles are thrown in the way of innovators on behalf of those with a vested interest in the status quo.
- Is not invention
This last part is important. Innovation is not invention. Innovation can be the creation of something new - or a new way of doing something. While there might be a single inventor - there is no such thing as a lonely innovator. It does not happen in a vacuum, but in collaboration with others.
This is part of the reason I created the Fearless Journeys community. To bring people together, to collaborate and grow and learn from one another. No one innovates on their own. We need each other. And the world needs innovation to continue to thrive, prosper, and solve problems.