I’m traveling right now, so I can’t write a lot today. Instead, I have this must-see video from the always-watchable Malcolm Gladwell:
Some important points:
- We get hung up on our technologies: the Norden bombsight made bomb dropping more accurate. However, in most cases, accuracy isn’t necessarily the problem – identifying the right target is the bigger problem. We often get so focused on the technical problem that we’re trying to solve that we fail to understand the (often bigger) underlying problems. Technologies are means to ends, and if we innovate only technologies, we will fail.
- Innovations have unintended consequences: Norden designed his bombsight in an effort to minimize the collateral damage in war. This didn’t happen. It is nearly impossible to know how innovations will be used once they are out in the world.
- We have to innovate for a purpose: how much effort do we really need to put into getting better at blowing people up? Or generating fractionally higher returns from financial instruments? Innovation must be driven by strategy, and strategy must be driven by values.