cargo cults

Jeff Veen paraphrases Picasso with ‘Good designers copy, great designers steal’.

Since innovation is in large part finding new combinations, I think that Veen’s point applies to innovation as well as design. He expands the Picasso quote to include a similar statement from TS Eliot, saying a great poet that steals ‘welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.’ Copying an iPhone doesn’t add anything new to the economy, and is unlikely to do you much good. Stealing the fundamental ideas that make it work, and combining those with something else, actually does create something new – that’s innovation.

(originally from boing boing)

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “cargo cults

  1. While I recognize the phrase as being rooted in truth and positive outcomes, it still makes me feel bad. I don’t want to steal.

  2. It’s a tricky one – in that in this usage, the copying is more like what we think of as ‘stealing’. But I think that is part of what makes it a thought-provoking angle to take. I’m still not convinced that Picasso made the original quote for any reason other than to be provocative though…

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