How do innovators consistently innovate? And why is failure considered a positive thing?
There are two ways in which we can develop and evolve ideas. We could start from a complicated entity and break it down to it’s individual parts, or we could start with the individuals parts and build towards a complex entity. In other words, we could go from general-to-specific (G2S), or specific-to-general (S2G). These two opposing strategies can be seen through an additional lens. G2S is a destructive process, we are taking something and breaking it down into smaller parts. This is an analytical process. On the flip-side, S2G is a creative process, we take small things and put them together to form a bigger whole. This is a process of synthesis. Analysis vs. Synthesis i.e., Destruction vs. Creation.
Now lets take several large entities and their corresponding individual parts. Once we break down, say, a sector and a technology, we are left with two different sets of pieces, which could potentially collaborate with each other. Only when we really understand each moving piece of the larger whole, we can understand the role it plays, processes it uses, dependencies, and much more to that larger whole. This is integral to “mixing and matching” seemingly unrelated items with each other.
But notice there is another step, or steps, between the destruction and creation steps. Creation will not truly happen without a Playtime. Playtime is when we can understand each of these pieces in a practical sense. There is no pressure, or expectations – just experimentation. In the example of kids in a sandbox, there are certain things a child will encounter. A typical sandbox is made up of sand, a bucket, a plastic shovel, and maybe there is a hose around. In this “sandbox” environment a child would discover that if you spill water in the sand, it makes it more structured and moldable. A shovel can be used to scoop the sand, and a bucket can be used to hold large amount of sand. With enough playtime and experimentation, a child will eventually discover that these items used in a particular process can be used to create a fort. Playtime, was crucial in the child’s ability to create a fort – and in the future he/she will be able to level up their abilities and build even grander structures.
So – how do great innovators consistently innovate? And why is failure a good thing?
Innovators who can consistently innovate are those who have a masterful understanding of their field by having spent a lot of time analyzing and experimenting – establishing new pattern recognition in their minds. So when they are put into a new environment, they have the analytical skills and can see patterns in those individual parts more easily. Also, they have probably also failed many times at previous projects or endeavors. Failure is inherent to the Playtime process. Failure isn’t always good, but if one can approach it within this framework, I would voice that it can be a very positive thing.
Learn. Play. Create.