Welcome to the Beginning of the End of Innovation, As You’ve Been Sold It
Posted Originally at Blog.com on May 3, 2014 by Marshall Barnes R&D Eng
by MARSHALL BARNES, R&D Eng
Copyright May 6, 2014 All Rights Reserved
As the first post for this new blog on business innovation, I felt an introduction of the purpose ,and the subject, was in order. No, this is not going to be another blog filled with insipid, and impossibly inane drivel disguised to sound clever, insightful and enlightening – with the prerequisite cute or corporate photo, to go along with each post. Instead, this blog is going to expose those kinds of posts, and ideas from elsewhere. As someone who has been creative and innovative, nonstop since jr. high school, (so much so that I have been so far ahead of the crowd that it used to hurt my prospects of getting things accomplished), I know innovation or creativity fakery when I see it and I’m here to tell whoever will read it, that I have seen more b.s., smoke and mirrors, and complete claptrap in the innovation industry than in any other – including big time wrestling. And guess what? The ones that get hurt by it aren’t people like me – no, we know better. The people that it hurts are the people at the companies that listen to it, because it is going to decrease their competitiveness, waste their time and resources, degrade their productivity and make them lose money in the face of their competition who might know better. So, in the end, this isn’t my problem. In fact, if you’re here looking for a business blog on innovation, it’s probably yours. I’m doing you a favor here…
You see, when I look around and see companies that don’t know how to innovate, that’s actually good for me. Especially if they’re in a field that either effects me or is where I want to head. Case in point, I’m a member of the open source group, NineSigma’s, innovator community which they turn to get applications for technology solutions for problem solving requests they get from companies from around the world. Recently, I got a request from NineSigma for the means to help “multiple leading companies” to develop “new mood enhancing technologies”. This I found very exciting because among the various fields that I have expertise with in my background is the concept of how technology can effect human consciousness. So this was a perfect request – but I didn’t respond in the manner you would expect. Instead of trying to get the gig to work with these anonymous firms, I sent NineSigma a thank you for the notice because I now intend on using my knowledge to compete against them.
You see, what the notice alerted me to is that the field of commercialized mind altering technology is finally maturing or the so-called “leading” companies wouldn’t be interested. That means that the considerable investment of time and money that I’ve made over the years, researching and developing that area – knowing that the day would come when the time was right to introduce it, is now worth a lot of money. In fact, so much that I would be a fool to help some company with their own effort. That they are looking for help means that they don’t know what they’re doing. Regardless of how much money they may have to bring a product to market, currently they have no product and I have many, including one that was already test marketed successfully. I can tell by what their request called for, that they don’t understand fully the conceptual context in which they want this invention to operate, and that means that even if they get someone to try to help them achieve it, they probably won’t know the obvious flaws that exist in it either. So the advantageous thing for me, that I recognized immediately, was to not respond to the request with an application to assist, but be completely different. Use the request as business intelligence to be used against potential competitors, to beat them to the punch and finally launch a new commercial field in which I have an excellent chance of being the dominate force. That is not only different, that”s radically different. But that’s what being an innovator is all about. When’s the last time you read that in an innovation blog?
I’ve placed the promotional video, The Crazy Ones, with this opening post for a reason. Because,while it’s true, as I should certainly know from experience being viewed the same way, it contains the same irony that I see in the innovation field as a whole. For example, it says that these individuals never like the status quo. That may be the way it looks from a far, but I know that as revolutionary as Einstein was with his theories of Special and General Relativity, he didn’t like quantum mechanics, and he didn’t like the far out implications of his own theories when taken to their logical conclusions. Edison was very much a status quo type of person, it’s just that he wanted to reshape it, change it and control it, but the true revolutionary was Nikola Tesla, whom Edison eventually learned to hate. Ted Turner used to be a maverick back when he first started CNN and CNN was a radical new idea that few thought would work and that the big three networks fought against. Now, both Ted and CNN are not only status quo but elite establishment. Apple itself, the corporation this promo was made to promote, has gotten to the point that they aren’t as revolutionary as they once were and it has nothing to do with the death of Steve Jobs either. Apple had begun to allow itself, while Jobs was still alive, to miss the point of customer service to the extent that, once I get myself in the right position, I intend to start a company to compete with them – that’s how hacked off that they’ve gotten me. You see, the point of the video is not just to honor the trailblazers and visionaries of the past, but to pretend that they’re trying to inspire you to do the same. At the end, against the black screen are the words, Think Different. You’ve just seen all these great people and so you’re supposed to be inspired, on its face, to want to be like them. But the real message is, “be like the crazy ones, think differently and buy an Apple”. And now Apple is firmly the rival status quo to the PC, and have tablets, and phones and MP3 players but they’re running out of ideas, which means they’ve forgotten how to think different.
You see, thinking differently doesn’t mean just once, or a few times, but always. It means to the point that you don’t even create a rut, let alone get stuck in it. Nowadays, the word disrupt is being used instead of different, but the problem is even worse. With all the talk about disruption, no one has thought about what happens if someone comes along and disrupts your disruption with their own counter-disruption. Instead, they’re just walking lock-step with all the so-called innovation gurus who are going on and on about disruption. I think it’s time that someone showed them what it really means. What effect it really has. I think it’s time that they were taught what it means when they’re confronted with someone who thinks differently and has the innovative spirit and knowledge to know smoke and mirrors when they see it – and says so. Someone who will disrupt their incessant sales pitches of psychobabble. Because in the end, innovation isn’t about buzzwords and word games and psychological repackaging to hide the fact that what happens too often, amidst the hype and the seminars, is just a lot of regifting the same old ideas using different words. Semantics over substance. It’s about having a vision, powered by creativity that allows you to see solutions that others can’t, to design things that others never thought of, to believe in possibilities that others think are crazy. The promo says that “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do”. What it doesn’t say is that it’s not being just plain crazy, but crazy like a fox.
I should know. Video Magazine said that about me when I was 20 and was the first rock musician in the world to completely self-produce a rock video album (click on image below, first paragraph). Now, I’m acquiring the resources and the connections to do what that Apple promo warns that crazy people, who say they want to change the world, do. And with relish.
You’re welcome to stick around and watch what happens next.