Innovation is doing something new. Being brave enough to reject the status quo and ask “Why?”. Often there is no reason behind how something is done. The method was made a long time ago, it has been handed down through generations, across countries and industries, from the person before you. Somewhere along the way the purpose disappeared and no one noticed. Maybe something that once made sense no longer applies. The opposite of innovation is the person who looks shocked when asked “Why?” and answers immediately, “Because this is the way we’ve always done it.”
Innovation is looking at a problem with a curious mind and being willing to question how can it can be improved. How can it be done differently? How can it be taken apart and rebuilt in a new way? How can you get to the same destination faster, or a new destination? Most new ideas look strange and ridiculous when first proposed. It is the courage to propose them anyway. It is a focus on “Why not?”.
It’s very hard to imagine what the world will be like in 50 years, or even five years. When you’re unsure of where to look, the best thing to do is to read old books or watch old TV shows, to see how people in different times dismissed concepts that we now take for granted. Consider the first 10 minutes of your day. Imagine how many of the basic things you do that were once shocking innovations we now take for granted.
You wake up from your smart phone alarm, roll over, pick up your phone and see the weather, read emails and stumble into the kitchen. You take food out of the fridge, throw it in the microwave and turn on the TV. Imagine someone from 25, 50 and 150 years ago watching your morning routine. A wireless way to wake up at a precise time, that also tells you the weather anywhere in the world. You communicate effortlessly and cheaply. You store food for long periods of time. The once complex and time consuming process of food preparation is done within seconds, while simultaneously being entertained.
All of the above happened due to a series of innovations, big and small. Across time people created and innovated, and others were inspired to do the same, in a virtuous cycle. To push the limit further and never seek completion, but to continuously ask “Why?”