Tinkering and Innovation

I was reading Nissim Taleb’s, Black Swan and something that he mentioned really jumped at me. He talks about how in the history no major discovery, breakthrough or innovation ever happened based on statistics and empirical data. It happened because people tinkered with experiments, data, projects, applications. In my mind, this is a very important observation, for any industry to proliferate and grow in a region it is important to have opportunities to tinker, experiment, fail….and win. Why do I say fail? It is not so much the act of failing rather the freedom to do so that frees the person from the burden of being mediocre and following the set path. It frees people to be themselves and in the process creating a network effect on industries across the stream.

Incubation centres play such a role and let people experiement, tinker and learn. But more importantly, the process of tinkering has to be easily doable, accessible and low cost leading to high quality, highly reliable network for innovation for anyone who decided to do so. This is one of the reasons why product innovation has not taken off in such a big way in India, yet. Especially creating products that require large capital infusion to create the basic prototype before the customer can fund it by being “raving fans”.

What do you think? How important is tinkering and access to experimentation in creating product companies in a region? How important is this within a company? Can we hold Google’s 20% innovation time as a rule as opposed to an exception, within companies, now that we know this fact?

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