174: Don’t Discount Your Lone Innovators
Raw Transcript – Sometimes Your Lone Innovators Give You The Most Disruptive Ideas
Good morning everyone and welcome to the think future podcast I’m your host Chris Culliver and once again we’re coming to you live from deep in the heart of Silicon Valley California. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about the long. Inventor that alone innovator for some reason I feel like going to want. Good bad the ugly. Tune. Lone innovator. See over the last a while and I’ve written about this. In previous blog posts. We, humans, are undergoing this tendency this recent tendency to want to do everything collaboratively. Right I mean there was this. Everyone thinks a lot of people think that you only get the best out of people when they do things in groups in teams in collaboration with others. Fact if you look at things Emerson Myron and Geneva Mehdi did Yahoo and I.B.M. respectively. They told or they shut down all of their remote workers because they figured that if we brought people in and they were more collab. But of then the could be more innovative there’s this. The implicit connection between. Collaboration and innovation. And what I’m trying to say is that that it’s not necessarily so. So I was at an ideation session the other day where we bring in inventors from all over the company we bring them into one central location physical central location face to face meeting and we have a day-long session where we. Get them to invent sweet We have an introductory section where we talk about what we’d like to invent then we’ll break off into our work groups and we invent collaboratively products and patent t ties a bull and patent bull ideas. And then we come back and we go through them and Solution them and cetera. And in this one meeting. We were going through our typical introduction and then about halfway through the introduction there was one guy who was sitting there in the corner and he started scribbling furiously he was like writing idea after idea after idea on this on these notepad so he was scribbling furiously on his own after he had gotten enough information to go ahead and do his own thing. And these ideas that he had scribbled furiously on his pad on his own not in collaboration with anybody we’re pretty damn good. We seem to have this. Fixation. On collaboration. We seem to think that the only time we can get really good interesting in of in of the is his when we throw a team at it. But what I’m saying is that that’s not necessarily look and if you look through history if you look through history if you look at. Inventors. The Big Ten inventors Edison Bell Franklin Tesla Babbitt you Berners Lee if you look at the big big inventors the ones who’ve come up with the most important most destructive most interesting innovations most interesting inventions over the course of human history Gutenberg. Then you see that they are lone inventors they’re lone innovators. They didn’t invent in a team they didn’t invent in collaboration they did it on their own. Now a lot of you going to say oh yeah but they stood on the shoulders of giants Yes that’s exactly right everyone stands on someone else’s shoulders that’s not. What I’m arguing for here what I’m arguing for here is that these individuals Edison Dell Franklin these people who came up with ridiculously disruptive and inventive ideas innovations that changed the course of the world they didn’t do it in it. They didn’t do it in collaboration with others they didn’t do it. In a focus group they did it on their own they may have leveraged ideas that have come before. And we all do that we all leverage ideas that have come before. We all simply take the Lego blocks that are already out there and we leverage them to create new creations. But these people did it individually they did it alone and for some reason now we have this fixation that no good idea will come out of anything other than a team no good idea will come out of anything other than a collaboration Now I’m not saying that good ideas do not come from collaboration you get plenty of great. Yes from collaboration. What I’m trying to say is is that do not discount the great ideas you may get from some lone innovator somewhere out there in your organization in some remote field office or in some location or sitting at home as a remote worker all of these remote lone innovators have something valuable to contribute don’t automatically discount them because they’re not sitting in some kind of collaborative environment with another team coming up with ideas together as a group. I’ve said before that human beings. I seem to see us evolving from. Individualistic people. To some kind of new type of human that relies on the social group to make decisions I think of cult at home on Nexus. And blog posts and previous podcasts. And even though there are plenty of us who fall into that category. There’s plenty of people who get energized when the group in the end they do get more collaborative when they’re in a group and they do cause spark new ideas when they’re in a group there’s a whole nother set of people who are not like that if you think about the whole extrovert interview thing there’s a whole bunch of people who are creative in collaboration and then there’s a whole bunch of other people who are not creative in collaboration in fact collaboration shuts them down and they prefer to work alone they prefer to be in a room by themselves inventing. And some of those ideas could be amazing. So I’m not saying collaboration is bad what I’m saying is don’t discount the lone innovators when you are running innovation programs you need to be able to cover both just like really good teachers really good teachers speak to kids. All three all three levels right they speak to them visually they speak to them ot it in an auditory way and they speak to them kinesthetically So depending on the way the child learns they can connect with the child and help teach the child in the same way those teachers are great to connect and learn or teach the child. We as innovators need to be able to tap both the brain trust of the people who thrive in the collaborative space as well as the people who don’t thrive in the collaborative space those lone inventors who just want to sit at home or in sin sit somewhere in isolation and generate new ideas. So collaboration is great but at the same time don’t discount your loan innovators That’s it for me for today C N X time and until then don’t forget to think future.