Bill Taylor of Harvard Business recently wrote a post about Innovation. In it he describes a new phenomenon he calls Innovation Overdrive,
"What is Innovation Overdrive? First, the gnawing sense that even though breakthrough advances in computing, communications, and consumer electronics are wonderful, anything in excess is a poison—and it feels like we’re all chugging from a poisoned chalice."I think we can all relate to this feeling of having too much to read, too much to keep up with, too many new technologies, too many ideas, not enough time, yada, yada, yada.
But, I think Innovation Overdrive is only part of the story. The other part (and arguably more important) is that we aren't yet good at interpreting innovation. The fact that innovation is happening a lot is wonderful and should be encouraged, but we need to get better at understanding which ones are actually innovative and which ones should be forgotten. The fact that we haven't yet learned how to decipher good innovation from bad is what leads to the problems Bill talks about in his post, not because it's happening too much.
Contrast Bill's thoughts with a recent article in the Economist about Evan Williams, founder of Blogger and Twitter. The article details how Evan innovates by stumbling upon ideas and reliving frustrations (i.e. I don't like the way this works), and asking the question,
"...what can we take away to create something new?” A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google. When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things."Well that's interesting. It's starting to sound like a criteria we should be using to interpret innovation. Perhaps that is all we need to overcome what Bill calls Innovation Overdrive. What do ya'll think?