What does it mean to invent the future?
You look around to the proclamation of disruptive innovation everywhere but what does it even mean?
- Uber disrupted the taxi industry
- Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry
- Google disrupted the internet
- Facebook disrupted friendships
- Instragram disrupted photography
How much of this is true and how much of it is media hype generated by these companies PR machines? The truth is innovation is almost always iterative development or progression of historical precedent.
That not to say these products are not a quantum leap forward in terms of usability or outcomes, its merely acknowledgement of the fact that since times of antiquity innovation has arisen as a result of individuals incrementally improving on current trends.
Quantum leaps are far rarer and, in fact, almost always unwise.
Why did Friendster fail while Facebook took over the world?
The answer is complex and tinged with nuance but the most obvious explanation is luck, implementation and timing. Bebo, MySpace, Friendster and numerous others were first into the space but Mark Zuckerberg supplanted them all.
Amazon started off selling book before diversifying and becoming the market leader for almost every good sold on the internet.
Being a first mover is a myth. The truth of inventing the future is that you look at the current trends and implement better, create a better experience and then post-rationalise the truth to create the impression that you dominated through innovation.
Google never won search by moving first, they won by creating a better product than yahoo which users appreciated because it provided better results.
And that is the truth that most want-to-be entrepreneurs are discouraged from pursuing there dreams. The succumb to the overwhelming noise that innovation is an isolated event characterised by a moment of individual inspiration leading to a product that never existed before.
In reality almost every paradigm shift in terms of progress has been achieved through development of something that already exists but in a way that is more considered and offers greater value to the users.
Inventing the future is reinterpretation of what currently happening.
It taking historical precedent and looking at it from an alternative perspective.
It’s taking you unique insight and applying it to create a solution which improve upon an existing idea.
Good businesses are new ideas.
Great business borrow and steal the best parts of existing enterprises and ruthlessly exploit their advantage.