Efficiency is the Enemy of Innovation

Marcel Duchamp and time

This quote, from the book Not Knowing by Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner:

To arrive at the simplest truth, as Newton knew and practised, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behavior of any kind. Not making any effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know.

– Mathematician G Spencer Brown

… reminded me of this quote from Duchamp by Calvin Tompkins:

His finest work is his use of time.

That was Marcel Duchamp’s friend Henri-Pierre Roché’s comment on Duchamp. While Duchamp is probably most famous for his piece Fountain, which he made quickly, two of his greatest pieces of work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even… and Étant donnés both took well over ten years to create.

And during much of those periods, from the outside it looked like Duchamp wasn’t doing much.

Efficiency is the enemy of innovation – we need slack to innovate.

And so: are you taking the time you need? Or are you busy.

Personally, I’m way too busy right now – I need to fix that. Maybe you do too…

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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