Creating New Knowledge Eyes a Better Future

Most of what you are reading on the internet, day in, day out, is a regurgitation of the past. There is “nothing new under the sun.”

Many content creators – no matter the content – will tell you that there are no “new” stories – there are no new concepts, that everything that is done has been done before. While I vehemently disagree with that – we have, in recent years – I feel – fallen back on nostalgia and mashups of nostalgia – looking to the past instead of the future for the content that we create.

Everything old is new again, and new generations rediscover something from the past which, when unburied, sometimes gets a new life. But this is just recreating the past in a new way – it’s not creating new knowledge – new information.

This is not how the human race grows – this is not how the human race learns.

We need to be able to create new ideas, new things, new concepts. These not only have to be new – they have to be new-to-the-world, some knowledge that never existed before.

If you think about it, it is a huge responsibility, building new knowledge which is added to the sum of human knowledge, instead of copying and regurgitating old concepts in a new way. This is unfortunately one place where today’s style of capitalism (which can more accurately be called corporatism) is at odds with innovation.

Corporatism strives to drive as much value as possible out of what it is doing, for the company, employees, and shareholders.

Sure, they may develop innovative new products and services, but it does not create these to delight their customers and solve their tasks – it develops these innovative products and services to make a profit. This is one of the reasons that companies tend to go through innovation cycles – hot on innovation one minute and cold the next – when they realize that their ROI on innovation was not what they thought it was.

As Frans Johansson, author of the best-selling Click Moment, who I interviewed on my show a few weeks ago, when you look at funding innovation, you shouldn’t think ROI – you should think “affordable loss” – how many little bets can I place based on the budget I have?

It’s essentially the same as the VC model – place a lot of little bets – we willing to lose money on 9 out of 10 of them, and hope that the 10th is a unicorn. That, and the fact that companies are typically looking for immediate results to an immediate problem, does not bode well for innovation in an organization. Your organization needs to have a view to creating the new instead of recreating the old.

Additionally, corporate incentive models typically do not drive innovation – are you rewarded with promotions on the development of new-to-the-world products and services, or are you rewarded with promotions based on profitability?

We need a new compensation model that works with innovation instead of against it.

Only then will we be able to build truly innovative organizations – and create new knowledge, uplifting the human race.