I’ve been reading a book by Walter Issacson – The Innovators – which is the story of people who created the computer and the internet. It is the only book in my opinion that captures the history of the digital revolution. It also serves as the guide of how innovation happens. It is a book that I think the next innovators should read to avoid some of the pitfalls commited by early innovators. It is a book that technology students and entrepreneurs should read before creating a tech product or any product for that matter.
The Innovators book has taught me some of the major lessons that I will be applying in my professional life from now onwards.
The first and the most important lesson is – Collaboration. Throughout the history of computing every idea that became a reality was made possible by collaborative efforts of men and women working together to create it.
The greatest example of how collaboration contributed in the history of computing is seen in the collaboration that gave birth to the microchip by Robert Noyce, Andy Grove & Gordon Moore. Today, one of the most important companies in the tech world is Intel – which was also the creation of Noyce, Grove and Moore.
The book highlights examples of people who refused to collaborate with others which ultimately led to their failure. One such example is William Shockley who was a brilliant man but with a serious flaw. Although he contributed greatly in the history of computing he was hated by many in the valley.
Today, in the tech world there are many Shockley’s who refuse to collaborate in the interest of owning the space.
Lessons from early innovators illustrate that innovation is only possible when people with different skills and capabilities come together to create something that brings together their unique abilities.
Currently innovation is the buzzword in universities, governments and corporations however few of them work together to innovate. The same is true for startups who are also trying to create their own islands.
As we plan for the year ahead we should make room for collaboration with people with different abilities and skills. We should look beyond our teams, sector and discipline to innovate.
Collaboration proved to be the secret ingredient that made the digital age possible. The Next Innovators should use collaboration as their secret weapon to innovate the next big thing.
This article was first published in the Infonomist