I saw a quote today that made me pause. “If you want to speed up the innovation process, you are not going to do it on the cheap,” “You are going to do it with brute-force expenditure.”
The quote is attributed to Ted Nordhaus, chairman and founder of the Breakthrough Institute, an energy think tank Calif.
Is he right? Well I do know this. It’s his opinion. I’m sure he believes it.
But is it true?
Only if you believe it.
So yes, since the gentleman believes it, it is true for him … and those he convinces.
Surely the challenges are there. The catch is what we define as “cheap”.
At the turn of the century there were hundreds of “barn and garage” motor-enthusiasts tinkering with horseless carraiges. Some left the barns and their garages and started companies. Did they do it on the cheap? In the beginning yes.
So innovation has nothing to do with dollars … only the limitless capacity of the human mind to conceive.
There is a quote attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899 which goes, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” I have come to understand that this quote is not really the words of Mr. Duell. (Unless you were there how would we know for sure?)
But the point is that was in fact the belief of many people around the turn of the century where there were so many mechanical marvels surely no more could be conceived of.
There is a phrase my favourite professor used to say that “the bumble bee aerodynamically shouldn’t be able to fly … but no one told the bumble bee”.
Okay just to be clear I’m not ripping on think tanks.
But really when was the last time you ever heard of an innovation from a think tank?
And that leads me to ask another question what exactly is a “think tank”? Is there actually a tank? Is it full of water? And when someone starts is there a freshman initiation like you have to hold your breath for like a minute?
But I digress.
Ideas all have their time and we are in new times. We have never been before at this part in history.
Every American president has said at some time in their term of office said that the American people are the country’s most important asset.
Are they right?
I guess we should ask a think tank.
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