Innovation Conundrum


L.P. Draper and A.H. Kirkendal started the ride-sharing service in Los Angeles. This was in 1914. Long before Uber and Travis Kalanick were born.

First electric vehicles came to market in 1880s. In 1890s, the demand exceeded that of gasoline powered cars. Long before Toyota released Prius, before Tesla and Elon Musk became a household name.

Door delivery services have existed in third-world countries for years. Long before Tony Xu and DoorDash and similar services came to  exist.

Conventional wisdom teaches us innovation means unique ideas. But often times, inspiration for new ideas and solutions, lie in the past. Many technology advances we celebrate today are extensions of history. Take a hard look at Facebook and Twitter.

In order to be innovative, we tend to think optics are more important. We spend our time and energy trying to look different, like most teenagers in the world.

When you look at any innovation, or for that matter any accomplishment, through a narrow slice of time, it looks unique. Popular culture have long led us to believe that. Reality is, successful innovators have always used history as their playbook. The world rewarded them for failing repeatedly, learning, persisting and solving. More than who just dreamed.

Flawless for billions of years, the universe has given everything you need to survive, create and solve.

The thing is, you have to care to look.

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