“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” – Thomas Edison
All to often, innovation is seen to be the most important part of the business model, but it is not until the innovation has become so routine and entrenched in everyday life that it is truly successful. I have said in a previous post truly significant innovations even after a short time will appear to be invisible and mundane, and they should.
So if you are an innovative person make sure you work alongside people who are able to commercialize what you do. It may mean that you have to give up some control and share profit.
Keep innovation happening, but be realistic in the commercialization potential of the creation you have just made.
Celebrate the Ordinary – Innovation to the Mundane
At what point does an innovation become infrastructure and the spectacular become mundane?
How much of life and the world around us do we take for granted, for example the radio alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning, the toaster and electric jug that helps you with breakfast, the car on the way to work, the computer, email, the microwave that heats up your lunch, or even the ball point pen you write with. These were all spectacular innovations that, at some stage, set the world on fire (in the case of the toaster sometimes literally).
What was life like without these innovations and what would it be like if they suddenly disappeared?
At some stage in the life cycle of every great invention or innovation it will become an expectation or an infrastructure, forgotten about, and even treated as mundane and routine. It would appear that the most significant innovations of the last 100 years have become so routine that we cannot name the inventor.
Truly significant innovations even after a short time will appear to be invisible, and they should. We turn on a switch and the light goes on, we don’t even think about it we just expect the electricity to flow through an electrical circuit and make a small glass bulb glow. Hardly a thought goes to Thomas Edison’s 10,000 attempts to make it work.
Often significance is invisible and silent. The true greatness of innovation is not measured by awards and plaudits but by silent entrenchment as infrastructure.
The routine and the ordinary make the world go round.
Appreciate and celebrate the ordinary, because at some stage in the not to distant past it was amazing.
Paul S Allen