“Innovation” has positive connotations. To call someone “innovative” would be a compliment. No one ever suffered from excessive innovation. So why don’t we see more innovation? Some would argue that everything has been done. All ideas are exhausted, and no stones are waiting for someone to turn them over. The reality is, innovation, while admired and desired, is often brutally painful.
We like to imagine new products, markets and methods being a fresh ray of sunlight that makes the world a better place immediately. However, new things are often confronting and scary. It challenges our belief systems and shakes what we know. Making us question what we do and who we are. To worry about what will come next, reminding us that tomorrow may look unrecognisable.
Disruptive innovation can challenge our innate love of safety and security. When something familiar begins to rapidly disappear, whether telephone operators, brick and mortar book stores, or even physical books themselves, we focus on the painful loss, the nostalgia and remorse. Rather than the gain and benefits, of eCommerce, globalisation, mass distribution of knowledge and affordability of education to those who need it most. These benefits often feel intangible, while the costs of losing what we have is palpable.
To innovate means to let go. To release the baggage of who we are and what we do, to hold nothing sacred, to be willing to challenge and question everything, and to disrupt the simplest things we take for granted. Only when you’re willing to disrupt and cause painful transitions for yourself and others can you begin to innovate.