Friday, July 02, 2010

Innovate? Imitate!

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.
We are bombarded with messages of innovate, be creative, find something new, blaze a new trail.  And those are great messages.  we should all strive but find that next best thing as we go about our daily work lives. 

But don't forget an important thing - some things just work.  There are proven methods that just work, because they have captured a truth about the human condition.  Take the thing you're looking at right now - the computer - as an example.  Long ago technologists discovered that people don't like looking at screens of text, and that users much prefer point and click.  Is it more efficient?  in most cases not at all.  But it's our human preference (I do have geek friends that still don't "get that whole mouse thing.").

And for me one of the most interesting things in the whole evolution of the computer is that the people that have been successful in operating system interfaces (Apple and Microsoft) did not actually come up with the idea!  The Apple guys "borrowed" it from Xerox and Microsoft was "inspired" by the Apple design.  They tweaked the original.

So what's the main message?  Don't let the lack of a completely new idea hamstring your productivity.  Some of the most iconic things in life were simply variations, while some were truly new and innovative.  In the end it doesn't matter.

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