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Forget The Old: Create The New

In the vast expanse of content that floods our screens day after day, we are often inundated with a mere regurgitation of the past. Many content creators, regardless of their medium, adhere to the notion that there are no “new” stories, no novel concepts – that everything has been done before. While I vehemently disagree with this stance, we have indeed fallen into a trap of nostalgia and mashups of nostalgia in recent years, looking to the past rather than the future for the content we create.

Everything old is made new again, and fresh generations rediscover something from the past, breathing new life into it. However, this is merely recreating the past in a new way – it is not creating new knowledge or new information. This is not how the human race grows; this is not how we learn. We need to be able to generate new ideas, new things, new concepts – knowledge that has never existed before.

Think about it: Building new knowledge that adds to the sum of human understanding is a tremendous responsibility, far more profound than merely copying and regurgitating old concepts in a new way. It’s akin to being an explorer charting new territory, venturing into the unknown and bringing back invaluable insights that expand the boundaries of our collective wisdom.

Unfortunately, this is where today’s style of capitalism, or more accurately, corporatism, clashes with true innovation. Corporatism strives to extract as much value as possible from its endeavors, for the benefit of the company, employees, and shareholders. While corporations may develop innovative new products and services, their motivation is not to delight customers or solve problems; it is to generate profit.

This profit-driven approach often leads to a short-sighted view of innovation. Companies tend to experience cyclical periods of innovation – hot one minute and cold the next, when they realize their return on investment (ROI) from innovation was not as expected. They become disheartened and revert to safer, more predictable strategies that prioritize immediate returns over long-term growth and advancement.

As Frans Johansson, the author of the best-selling book “The Click Moment,” whom I interviewed on my show a few weeks ago, pointed out, when funding innovation, one shouldn’t think about ROI but rather “affordable loss” – how many small bets can be placed based on the available budget. It’s the same as the venture capital model: place numerous small bets, willing to lose money on nine out of ten, hoping the tenth will be a unicorn that makes the entire portfolio profitable.

This mindset shift is crucial because true innovation, the kind that generates new knowledge, requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. It’s a long-term game, one that demands a level of risk tolerance that may seem at odds with the traditional corporate mindset.

Moreover, the fact that companies typically seek immediate solutions to immediate problems does not bode well for innovation within organizations. They become mired in a reactive mode, constantly putting out fires instead of proactively exploring new frontiers of knowledge and understanding.

Your organization needs to cultivate a mindset of creating the new, rather than recreating the old. It needs to foster an environment where curiosity is encouraged, where failure is seen as a learning opportunity, and where the pursuit of new knowledge is celebrated as a noble endeavor.

This cultural shift must be accompanied by structural changes as well. Corporate incentive models typically do not drive innovation. Are employees rewarded with promotions for developing new-to-the-world products and services, or are they rewarded based on profitability? Are they given the time, resources, and autonomy to explore uncharted territories, or are they expected to adhere to strict timelines and deliver predictable results?

We need a new compensation model that aligns with innovation, rather than working against it. We need to create spaces where employees feel empowered to take calculated risks, to experiment, and to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Only then will we be able to build truly innovative organizations capable of generating new knowledge that propels humanity forward.

It’s not just about financial incentives, either. We must cultivate a deep appreciation for the value of new knowledge within our organizations. We must recognize that the impact of innovation extends far beyond the bottom line; it has the potential to reshape industries, solve pressing global challenges, and unlock new realms of possibility.

Imagine a world where organizations are not just profit-driven machines, but rather engines of discovery, relentlessly pursuing new frontiers of understanding. Imagine workplaces where employees are celebrated not just for their productivity, but for their ability to think outside the box, to challenge assumptions, and to generate truly novel ideas and solutions.

This is not a utopian fantasy; it’s a vision that can be realized through a collective commitment to fostering a culture of innovation, one that values the creation of new knowledge above all else.

It’s time to break free from the shackles of nostalgia and embrace the pursuit of new knowledge. We must foster a culture that values the creation of novel ideas, concepts, and solutions – knowledge that has never existed before. This is how we grow as a species; this is how we learn and advance.

Embrace the responsibility of adding to the sum of human understanding, rather than merely rehashing the past in new forms. Only then can we unlock the true potential of innovation and propel ourselves into a future where knowledge knows no bounds, where the limits of human curiosity and ingenuity are constantly being pushed, and where the pursuit of new knowledge is seen not just as a means to an end, but as an end in itself – a noble quest that elevates us all.

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