Everyone can be the hero of their innovation journey. In the age of information abundance, how may one innovate better? The transformation may be accelerated with the right mentors & helpers. Where are those kind minds from? As a journey is completed, what can be the next phase?
“Information wants to be free”
The increased flow of information outpaces capitalism to incubate more innovations. In the book: Where Good Ideas Come From, the most important innovations from 1800 are mapped into 4 quadrants: 1)private corporations, 2) marketplaces, 3) hobbyists & 4) open-source. Most are in the open-source quadrant.
An increasing flow of information across different boxes(contexts) is the key. Open-source may not have big paydays to motivate the participants as those in the capitalist quadrants. Nevertheless, the openness creates more opportunities for different ideas to evolve & mix freely. As the book suggests: liquid networks, slow hunches, serendipity, noise, exaptation, and emergent platforms do best in an open environment. Therefore, collective invention is possible.
Becoming a super connector
In Granovetter’s classic 1974 study: Getting a Job, the majority (56%) found their job through personal connections. Most connections are so-called “weak ties”, as people were getting jobs through their acquaintances much more than close friends. Because new information/opportunities come from heterogeneous social groups more often than homogeneous ones.
If you choose to, you can bridge multiple worlds. There are 3 ways to connect the dots. Taiwan Tech Summit provides such examples.
1. Bridging places & cultures
Immigrants play a big role for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Different cultures bring new perspectives, and immigrants naturally bridge their networks in two places. Furthermore, they contribute to the communities & economics in a way impossible without the bridge. Together, the missionaries make the world a better place, as Michael Lu, dean at UC Berkeley of Public Healthy puts it:
“… for most people, they just get to sit on the sideline and watch the house burns down. But, I get to go to work every day and work with some of the most brilliant people, not only at my school, but across the Berkeley campus, across Silicon Valley, and across the entire Pacific Rim, to try to innovate solutions to some of biggest problems, biggest challenges of facing humanity in the 21st century.” — Michael Lu at Taiwan Tech Summit, 2022.
2. Crossing domains & professions
The Art of Creation suggests many decisive breakthroughs came from the cross-fertilization between different mental disciplines or experimental techniques. For example, Tim Lu, co-founder & CEO of Senti Biosciences cross-fertilizes biological & electrical engineering with computer science to create “smarter treatments” by designing gene circuits to cure cancer more effectively. A hobby has intrinsic value because you should enjoy it already. But, if you need one more reason, it can also make you more innovative 😉.
3. From a generation to the next generation
The Venture Capital forum featured 3 legendary founders. Wu-Fu Chen, Kai Huang & Wretch Chein not only made their fortunes by building successful startups. But also, they keep beating the odds in their venture investing. To give back to the ecosystem, they “recycle” their capital, time & wisdoms to guide next generations of entrepreneurs to new ventures. For example, they shared the good qualities of new founders:
- Wretch: be authentic to yourself. You don’t need to be liked by every VC. You just need to be loved by one VC. For better or worse, that relationship will be longer than the average marriage.
- Kai: be an amazing storyteller, not just to the investor, but also to people working with you & customers.
- Wu-Fu: passionate & honest entrepreneurs, who is also a good team builder. While the spotlight is mostly on the founder when a venture success, it’s almost always a great team behind the scene.
The opinions stated here are my own, not those of my company. They are mostly extrapolations from public information. I don’t have insider knowledge of those companies, nor a whatever expert. Up to you to take it with a grain of salt or two 😉.