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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Key to Innovation

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https://fs.blog/2020/04/shoulders-of-giants/

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Key to Innovation
Innovation doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Doers and thinkers from Shakespeare to Jobs, liberally “stole” inspiration from the doers and thinkers who came before. Here’s how to do it right.

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Innovation at work

Innovation at work

When you look at great geniuses like Newton, for example, it can be easy to imagine that their ideas and work came exclusively out of their minds. But that is seldom how it works.

Innovatio...

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Everyone gets a lift up

We get to see further than our predecessors, not because we have a greater vision or greater height, but because we are lifted on their gigantic stature.

There are giants in every field...

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The "Not invented here" syndrome

'Not invented here syndrome' is a term for situations when we avoid using ideas, products, or data created by someone else, and instead develop our own even if it is more expensive, time-con...

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Steve Jobs

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obviou...

Steve Jobs

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Building on other inventions

Steve Jobs is often shown as a revolutionary figure who changed how we use technology. In reality, he stood on the shoulders of the many unseen engineers, students, and scientists who worked fo...

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How Shakespeare got his ideas

How Shakespeare got his ideas

Much of Shakespeare's plays came from prior works.

  • Hamlet took inspiration from Gesta Danorum, a twelfth-century work on Danish history by Saxo Grammaticus, consisting of sixteen Latin...

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The adjacent possible

Why can't people come up with their own ideas? Why do many people come up with great ideas but don't profit from it?

Each new innovation or idea opens up the possibility of...

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Laying the groundwork

Technology, art, and other advances are only possible because someone else has laid the groundwork.

Shakespeare could write plays because other people had developed the structures and l...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Joel Mokyr

“Technological progress requires above all tolerance toward the unfamiliar and the eccentric.”

Joel Mokyr

What society needs to be technologically creative

  • A social infrastructure: society needs a supply of creative innovators who are willing and able to challenge their physical environment in order to better themselves.
  • Social incentives: there need to be incentives in place to encourage innovation.
  • Social attitude: a creative society has to be diverse and tolerant. People must be open to new ideas and individuals.

Joel Mokyr

Joel Mokyr

“Invention occurs at the level of the individual, and we should address the factors that determine individual creativity. Individuals, however, do not live in a vacuum. What makes them implement, improve and adapt new technologies, or just devise small improvements in the way they carry out their daily work depends on the institutions and the attitudes around them.”

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Succumbing to the Availability Bias

Succumbing to the Availability Bias

After a particularly stressful event, most people prepare for a repeat of the same challenge they just faced. From the micro level to the macro level, we succumb to the availability bias and get re...

When Disaster Strikes

When a certain disaster or calamity happens, we work towards ensuring that the same calamity can be dealt with in the better way, the next time it happens. The pain or loss that we suffer motivates us to do so.

We forget in our preparation and resource allocation to the ‘last’ disaster, that we have neglected many other things that are more likely to happen.

Expect The Unexpected

  • Life has a tendency to surprise us, and we will be most likely smacked with something totally unforeseen and unrelated to the last disaster, that one was prepared for.
  • A better strategy is to realize that it is inevitable that life will hit us unexpectedly, and to grow and learn from the same.
  • Being adaptive, flexible and resilient would increase our adversity quotient, making us strengthen our inner resources, and enrich our experience.

The A Player

The A Player

Many stories have a lone person, who is unknown but eventually becomes a hero due to his years of toiling and getting success. We like to think of this ‘heroic’ feat as something done exclusive...

The Leader With A Team

The job of a leader is to get the right team, which according to an estimate provides three times more output than an average team.

The work of a leader isn’t as simple as hiring the best talent, and merely putting smart people together as a team is not an effective strategy.

Individual Intelligence Vs Group Intelligence

Any combination of individual intelligence does not make an intelligent group, no matter how logical it sounds on paper.

The ‘A’ Players, the cream of individual intelligence, bring in drive, integrity and the ability to mentor, but all of which is not possible without the collective effort of other players of the team, who are not A players.

Understanding the world through mental models

Understanding the world through mental models

A few months ago, the world seemed reliable, but now it is changing so fast and has so many unknown dimensions, it can be hard to try and keep up.

Mental models can help us understand the wo...

Compounding

Compounding is exponential growth. We tend to see the immediate linear relationships in the situation, e.g., how one test diagnoses one person.

The compounding effect of that relationship means that increased testing can lead to an exponential decrease in disease transmission because one infected person can infect more than just one person.

Probabilistic thinking

In the absence of enough testing, we need to use probabilistic thinking to make decisions on what actions to take. Reasonable probability will impact your approach to physical distancing if you estimate the likelihood of transmission as being three people out of ten instead of one person out of one thousand.

When you have to make decisions with incomplete information, use inversion: Look at the problem backward. Ask yourself what you could do to make things worse, then avoid doing those things.

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The Definition Of Success

The Definition Of Success

If a person achieves what he set out to do, and is able to reach the goal they set for themselves, they are considered to be successful.

There are three positive traits tha...

Perseverance In Doing The Right Thing

If we keep out a million distractions surrounding us and think about our goal day and night, we will succeed in our goal, no matter what. The key here is continued focus, and also making the right thing as our goal.

If the aim is only money, it may not help us much, but if we keep our aim towards learning or striving to become better at something, we achieve success in monetary terms as a bonus.

Emotional Intelligence and Success

Emotional Intelligence, the ability to understand yourself and the people that you live and work with, is an excellent trait to balance and correct yourself.

Everything and everyone is connected to one another forming a huge ecosystem. Our endeavours, whether to get a job, to lose weight or to find a life partner is always related to others.

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Early History

The connection between genius and possible insanity was first documented in 1891 in the Italian physicians’ book The Man Of Genius.

In 1869, this was taken up by the cousin of Charles Darwi...

Genius and Heredity

In a 1904 study by English physician Havelock Ellis, a list was made of 1030 individuals through extensive research, examining thoroughly the intellectual distinction people had by the various factors like heredity, general health, and social class.


These works established that genius minds are often hereditary.

Genetic Studies Of Genius

A body of work of Stanford psychologist Lewis M. Terman, was an in-depth multi-decade study of gifted individuals, and an attempt to improve the measurement of genius and its association with the degradation of mental stability. This also included an enhanced version of the French IQ (Intelligence Quotient) test.

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Paul Graham

"One thing I've learned as an adult that I didn't realize as a kid is how precisely you have to aim ..."

Paul Graham

The narrow path to success

Many of us don't want to face the narrow path to success. Instead, we prefer to hear the stories of rare misfits who managed to beat the odds.

To beat the odds, you have to understand the game you're playing. You have to know why success is so narrow.

Reasons why success is narrow

  • Elite achievement is very hard. To be in the top 1%, you need effort, talent and strategy.
  • Specific results come from specific efforts. The smaller the target, the more carefully you need to aim.
  • Signaling filters create conformity. Knowing the requirements, candidates rush to meet those criteria, which creates even narrower signals.

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Allowing Ideas To Safely Flourish

Take a moment to consider if your employees and team members are coming to you with new ideas and innovations.

To create a sense of security where employees will feel safe to share their i...

Increased Diversity

Companies with increased growth are 72% more likely to have high diversity in their organization.

Use Learning & Development (L&D) training to raise awareness about the current state of diversity and inclusion in your work environment.

Agility Breeds Sustainability

Up to 70% of trainees forget what they learn within 24 hours after training. However, it does not have to be the case for your employees.

An effective leader will implement and integrate an agile training infrastructure into their daily operations that can change quickly to keep up with the pace of innovation.

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The modern polymath

... is someone who becomes competent in at least 3 diverse domains and integrates them into a top 1-percent skill set.

In another words, they bring the best of what humanity has discov...

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

"Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

Famous polymaths

Polymaths have existed forever (they are often the ones who’ve advanced Western civilization more than any others )  but they’ve been called different things throughout history:

Philosopher king: Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Archimedes.

Renaissance person: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei.

Gentleman scholar: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams.

Polymath: Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Theodore Roosevelt.

Modern polymath: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.

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Pamela Slim
“We are made to create. We feel useful when we create. We release our ‘stuckness’ when we create. We reinvent our liv..."

Pamela Slim

Creativity is complex

It means producing something novel or original, evaluating, solving problems, whether on paper, on stage, in a laboratory or even in the shower.

Knowing how to think

Geniuses know “how” to think, instead of “what” to think.

People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together.

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