Innovation doesn’t come from the Captains of Industry

Innovation doesn’t come from the captains of industry. It comes from a guy working in a garage. – Ian MacGreagor (Owner of the Museum of Making)

In this case, I think he means invention rather than innovation. Innovation is a broader social-cultural development which requires a community of explorers, inventors, collaborators, investors, early adopters and more. But original invention tends to come from someone who is tinkering at the fringes.

Many inventors don’t make it big, but it’s important to remember that every society depends on these few determined individuals who explore the edges of what we know. If we were serious about supporting innovation, then we would make sure that knowledge was as publicly accessible as possible and that people are free to take risks on their ideas without fear of losing their basic necessities.

During classical antiquity, this lack of a social safety net was a major barrier to innovation. Farmers would be highly resistant to trying new techniques when those new techniques might end up starving the entire family.

So be sure to take your fellow risk-takers out for lunch. We need as many of them as we can.

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