Evolution of Innovation. When I was driving in town yesterday, I
saw a kid walking home from school carrying a textbook, and it reminded me
of when I was in school and how I used to love putting book covers on the
books. I was especially happy if we could get the slick bookcovers from
the army or navy exhibit at the state fair – they were only printed on one
side and the other side was blank, which meant I could decorate the slick
blankness however I wanted to, with the printed images on the inside.
When we couldn’t get those book covers, we’d use paper bags. I wasn’t as
fond of those because they were so rough to the touch, but at least they
were still decoratable.
Then I thought about how many stores
actually SELL bookcovers now. What started out as an ad-hoc innovation
and a creative solution from existing materials is now something you can
buy pre-made with pre-made designs instead.
Then, I was watching
the Simpsons episode where Homer teaches a community college class and
puts tweed patches on his leather jacket. Besides the obvious goof of
tweed on leather instead of leather on tweed, it reminded me that the
reason people put leather patches on the elbows of their tweed jackets was
to be able to continue to wear the jacket when the fabric at the elbow
wore out. But now that’s become a certain kind of status symbol
associated with professorship in one way or another. Once again, what
started out as a creative solution with existing materials is something
you can now buy already LIKE that.
A lot of the best recipes also
came into being from foods that people often kept stocked. For instance,
take beef stew. We now go out and buy ‘stew beef chunks’ and all the
veggies, etc., when it originally came about as leftovers thrown together
in a pot over a fire. Lots of sauce ‘staples’ that we’re used to seeing
bottled on the shelf in the grocery store probably came about from
throwing together extra ingredients too.
I don’t think there will
ever be a point where this evolution STOPS, but it may go in waves or
phases of creative solutions, then buyable commodities, then we step ahead
again into a new phase requiring creative solutions, which then become
buyable commodities, etc. It reminds me of when a friend of mine, much to
my surprise, called me an ‘early adopter’. I thought about it a moment
and replied that I didn’t think I was an early adopter (I still don’t even
have a cell phone!), as that’s more about getting the next newest thing
that comes out on the market and, practically, absorbing it into your life
quickly. I like to think of myself more on the creative solution end of
things, which precedes the buyable commodity phase and also, of course,
the ‘early adopter’ phase as well. I’m not designing 6 megapixel camera
phones – LOL – but it’s more a matter of how the mind works and the
relative perspective you have to the expanse of the world in your
Anyway, just some stuff swimming around in my
brain at the moment!