In essence, not everything tends to go as planned. John Lennon was famously quoted as saying that 'life is what happens to you whilst you're busy making other plans' .
So in effect, there is something else going on whilst you're trying to figure out what you're going to do right now and in the future; like a cosmic 'please wait' process. And no matter what we do, we're at the mercy of 'that' as well.
Think about that.
On a basic level, it's the whole concept of living and co-exisiting, as well as working with other people. Even those of us who spend more time working alone ( I go through phases of that), still have connectivity to the world at large via a smartphone and an internet connection.
Beyond that, it's what can be called fate, karma, luck, blessings and so on. Or 'force majeure' spread out to varying degrees, over a lifespan.
I mention all of this as innovation is also subject to the same forces.
Consider the evolution of technology in the last decade. More specifically, let's look at the development of smaller form technology, such as smartphones and tablets.
Could anyone at Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and many other companies whose names escape me right now, have imagined even seven years ago as to how big the customer/ user base for this technology would become?
I'll hedge my bets and say no.
At some point, all of the aforementioned companies have innovated. That is a risk. No matter how many pre release surveys you do and even with multi level UX/UI design teams feeding back into themselves and each other, it's a calculated gamble as to whether your product will take off and have a lifecycle which allows successive development.
However, if any of these companies had played continually safe, then where would we be today?
The innovator's mindset is about risk and failiure. Success is the end goal, for obvious reasons, but it's in the stumbles along the way that the real learning and growth take place.
And it's bearing that in mind, that I always hope for someone somewhere to take a chance and not seem so predictable in their conceptualisation, in order to allow the alchemy of 'force majeure' to do its work even more effectively.
It could be someone like you or me. Or numbers of us, in teams.
Maybe we're already doing that in a smaller way, by using the products on a regular basis, and then occasionally sharing our findings, tips and gripes on the internet & via social media.
But more could be done. That requires trust. And that in itself could be a risk. Risks carry costs, and the opportunity cost of taking each risk, is money saved for further R&D for newer products and/or profit margin.
Playing safe is necessary to earn a living. But playing safe doesn't create the husks of innovation that drive forward change and even create new industries, with the offshoots occasionally becoming bigger than the original idea.
I'll be in the market for a new smartphone later this year. I'm hoping it'll have something quirky in the design. Refreshingly different, yet recognisable. Even the oddball and 'eh? What's that all about' handsets, would be worth investigating.
Rightly or wrongly , they will make a handful of people sit up and take notice. And someone somewhere will carry the uniqueness forward, to create something else. That's progress, and that's innovation.
The devil may be in the details, but there's also genius within the quirks & oddities; it can sometimes take longer to see the latter. Then it's a question of following those up, in order to change and improve upon them or discarding the concepts, maybe keeping a few ideas for another round of creativity. It'd be nice to have a blend of both options, but I may be in a minority on that front.
Here's to innovation and great design; both with or without the alchemy generated by the unpredictable results, which stemmed from a predictable mode of thinking.