Note: Why we need to innovate

Note

Systems live or die according to their ability to innovative.

Modern corporations have become the cornerstone of society. They’re seen as infallible, triumphant. Their values have become our values.

But the corporate graveyard is littered with companies that failed to innovate. Many took their categories down with them. Kodak. Agfa. Polaroid. (Just a few who thought they were in the film and photographic business rather than the memory business. Companies who got stuck in processes rather than outcomes. Kodak was offered the first digital imaging patents in the 1970s but declined on the basis of ‘who the hell would want to look at pictures on a computer screen?’)

While companies are ephemeral, cities almost never die. A cataclysmic hurricane couldn’t wipe out New Orleans, and a massive nuclear bomb failed to erase Hiroshima off the face of the earth. In contrast, the modern corporation has an average lifespan of only 45 years. Currently 20% of the companies listed in the Fortune 500 disappear every decade. Dead and buried.

In the future, the rate of corporate collapse will accelerate. Microsoft will die. Google will die. Yes, even your beloved Facebook will die.

Why? The main reason is per-capita innovation and productivity shrink as companies increase in size. The more employees, the less ideas. 

Cities exhibit the opposite trend. As cities get bigger, everyone in that city becomes more productive and creative, and generate more income and patents per resident. 

It’s that simple. You innovate or you die.

It’s bizarre to think that companies allow themselves to be dominated by bureaucracy and administration over creativity and innovation. All in the name of sound business practice. What they’re actually doing is signing their own death warrant.

Cities thrive on diversity and accidents. Conceptual blending is what leads to their constant growth.

To grow you need to structure your work like a city.

You need to keep innovating at all costs.


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