Through one means or another (I think I saw a Tweet about it). I “discovered” a presentation on Innovation. It was given by Scott Berkun at the Carnegie Mellon University.
I was really inspired by Berkun’s presentation. I watched it once, and then again, and then tried to make notes of what he was saying during the presentation.
Berkun talks about how much of what we know about innovation is wrong as he explored the history of innovation and creative thinking.
The notes I took take up eight pages. These are available via the links below. However, in a nutshell, Berkun points out that innovation is not some magical thing that just happens. It requires a lot of hard work, and a lot of failure. Often when we look at someone/something successful, we don’t see the work that was put in to get to that point.
Berkun gives many examples of people famous in history for their discoveries, and points out that it is the “mythology” surrounding that discovery that we actually remember without being aware of the hours put in to get to that it. Two examples he gives are Newton who is remembered for discovering gravity when he got hit on the head by an apple, Archimedes who cried Eureka! when he was in the bath.
He goes onto to illustrate how failure is also a part of innovation. The Colloseum in Rome is lauded as being an amazing piece of architecture, and shows what great builders the Roman’s were. However, we don’t get to see the attempts that failed. They don’t exist any more. We just have remaining the attempt that was successful. There are several modern examples also that include Google, Apple, Flickr.
At one point in the presentation, Berkun claims that James T Kirk is responsible for killing innovation. Why? Because, James T Kirk is the only modern day icon for exploration that we have today. The main story of exploration that is widely known is that of Captain Kirk, and the Enterprise and it’s ongoing mission to seek out new life, etc, etc.
The problem with this is that within the first few opening minutes of the program Star Trek, a new planet has been discovered. And then with the next few minutes, something exciting has happened. And so it goes on. We don’t get to see the boring bits. We don’t get to see the time spent just trying to find a new planet. And this is what happens a lot in real life . A new “discovery” is being made. There is a lot of excitement, and then…nothing. This is because it usually takes years, and years, and years before the new discovery is something useful, viable, or commercially profitable.
As I mentioned, Scott Berkun’s presentation really caught my attention. He had a very dynamic way of presenting this information. I recommend you follow the links below to learn more.
My Notes from Berkun’s presentation
Scott Berkun’s presentation on YouTube
Scott Berkun’s Homepage.