Constrained Systems Are Key To Innovation

A few weeks ago, I read a conversation about what innovation really is in a FriendFeed discussion started by Gregory Lent. He put the contents of the conversation up on his blog “PostLinearity“. The idea that some people think innovation is the result of strenuous work is kind of scary. So I’d like to give you all a view of what innovation truly is since I haven’t done that, yet.

Innovation (n.) That which is newly introduced; a change or, the act of innovating.

Innovating (v.) Beginning or introducing(something new); being creative.

In the conversation they discuss Innovation as being natural and being hard work. I find that it’s a natural change of thinking in order to adapt to the constraints that your facing. It is just as natural as evolution is, in fact it is real-time evolution of the mind. Anytime you grasp a new idea, your mind has innovated how you think, even if the idea came from someone else.

Innovation can’t be constrained by hard work, however, if that was the case evolution wouldn’t be possible. Look at the world, it has fauna and flora in locations where they can take the most advantage of their environs. Innovation is natural to the the universe, mathematics and sciences have reproduced constraints for this.

Imagine that you really want to get to the top of mountain with a semi-low grade, simple right, you just walk up. Now imagine that the mountain is a mesa, you can’t find a point were you could just walk up, you have to climb. That’s innovation, it’s a change from what you are used to doing with a mountain, because of the constraint of steep cliffs.

Now, many people think of innovation as changing something that is complex to make it simple. This is easily one of the most paradoxical constraints; as the solution becomes more simple, the problem gets more complex. The constraints in this case are constrained by their variability which makes it even more complicated to see the natural solution. This is why many people today see innovation as hard work, their dealing with problems that are increasingly complex.

Innovation is naturally simple and complex.