Graeme Newell

Pro-Innovation Bias

The 1950s business world was chomping at the bit. The buzz was intense. This would change everything. The new world of atomic energy was destine to reinvent the world. Soon, super cheap energy would light up the power grid. Existing business models would soon be obsolete. Industry would need to re-design assembly lines and step into the dazzling promise of unlimited nuclear energy. 

Except…it didn’t quite work out this way.

Innovation is just so exciting. It holds the promise of yet-to-be-discovered opportunities and riches. But what most people don’t fully grasp is that it also holds similar potential for unforeseen problems and failure. The catch is that we don’t know, what we don’t know. 

Established systems are so disappointing because we’ve already discovered the things that can go wrong. New systems are like a newborn, full of potential with nary a thought of the trouble they could cause in the future.

One thing you can probably count on though, pro-innovation bias will cause most of us to make badly misguided conjectures on the innovations that will revolutionize our future. Here is just a sampling of commonly accepted predictions from our past:

• Recorded music will destroy all musical ability

• Everything will be made of steel

• Electricity is just a fad

• Cleaning the house will require only a hose

• People will only want to shop in stores