Innovation Isn’t Linear


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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This was a great tweet by VC Benedict Evans. See if you can spot how the initial iPhone broke the mould.

We tend to think in a linear way when we start to imagine progress.  This leads to this which leads to this.  When we look at innovation using the “accounting” side of our brain it is in the rearview mirror.  Our brain tries to pattern match and puts our own confirmation biases onto the prior path of innovation to make sense of it all.  It is why I value friends of mine who think differently.

Of course, Google was just a new kind of engine.  Of course, Facebook just did it better than MySpace.  Someone was going to put accounting ledgers online, so of course Quicken.  Really great innovation looks so simple in the rearview mirror.  You have an “I could have thought of that” moment.

Innovative companies take a while to get traction as the rest of the world starts to see the vision.

It does pay for an investor to spend some time contemplating art.  I was talking to a friend of mine that has been an art collector and art dealer.  Now he consults with people trying to build collections.  His whole life has been in and around art.  I was talking to him about modern art.  Some of it I can easily grasp.  Ed Paschke for example.  I love Picasso and other early modern artists.  Some of the later ones are hard for me.   I said, “There is some modern art that looks like even I could paint it.”  He said, “Yes, but you didn’t and you didn’t come up with the idea.”

He is dead on right.

Innovation is like that.