09 Sep I’m Stupid
How Being Stupid Drives Innovation and Creativity
Growing up I did very poorly in school, leading the district psychologist to proclaim I was “educationally handicapped”, in other words stupid. That led me doing what all “educationally handicapped” people do, INNOVATE. Today I hold 40 patents, the millions of dollars invested in these innovations primarily produced belly flops. The good news is that some of them went on to be multimillion dollar technologies including one of the world’s smallest medical implants. This paradox of finding success in failure led me to investigate what was producing the innovative ideas. It turns out our educational institutions and the organizations we work for, punish the stupid and reward the compliant. Yet the best innovators in the world do not fear appearing stupid to others. They try things, break things and ultimately create the very innovations that improve our quality of life. Simply stated… to innovate you must be willing to look stupid, easy to say but very hard to do.
We love the scholars and the geniuses, and yet as a society we look at the stupid with great disdain. We have institutionalized the fear of looking stupid, as a result we have created an environment of “innovation paralysis.” Our educational systems judge us by our compliance to an academic curriculum and our organizations judge us by our obedience to an enterprise culture. Yet, obedience and compliance is literally the “innovation anti-body.” Release yourself from the debilitating human emotion of the fear of looking stupid and you will rediscover your creative and innovative self.
I’m currently researching an upcoming book and looking for stories of other innovators that would like to share their experiences and expertise on how a move away from risk centrism and towards a willingness to look stupidity is driving some of the best innovations reach out to me at Nick@Nickweb.com