Can Dissatisfaction Help You Differentiate?

Jeff Einstein, a cool connection of mine once told me:

Ignorance plus Intent equals innovation

Though I find that to be true in my experience, I couldn't help but wonder what is it that really creates that intent? Sure, the thoughtful answer might be that it is curiosity, a burning question, a destruction somewhere else which creates an opportunity here, or that it is the drive of the individual who just can't let an idea stay that way.

But what creates that drive? Is it about survival, adaptation, self-actualization, what? Why even bother to look so deep, what will that reveal? Well, in a connected world it can reveal plenty. Specifically on how to do all of the above. Adapt, survive and create meaning in the marketplace that is integral to the fabric of our lives.

The way I see it is that it is ultimately about dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction is a required mindset for surviving in the connection age. As "differentiating" becomes about innovative authenticity and not about "positioning" in the mass marketing sense, how to fuel the creative forces that contribute to it is foremost on my mind.

Corporations often spend huge amounts of resources into their "innovation" centers where ideas flow, open workspaces reign, and fresh flowers set the mood, but time and time again we see creativity drop off, and great ideas come in from garages and home offices of far less affluent (sometimes struggling) companies. Why?

Just as Peter Huber theorizes in the "Endless Well" about why conservation of the existing reserves of fuel "un-motivates" us to think up new ways of innovating energy use, the similar idea applies for general creative progress. When we try to harness the ideal conditions, or save existing resources to generate optimum ideas (i.e resource conservation, efficiency monitoring, etc.), it gives us little incentive to look for new and different ways of getting out of our discomfort.

We have the infinite capacity to create the next, but if we are overly concerned with maintaining the existing, we will never be able to do it. You can’t bottle or box a formula for creative achievement; the conditions have to exist outside it.

Think of it like this:

If you suddenly won the lottery, how good of a money manager will you make?

If you’ve never failed, what are your chances of true success?

If your job just required you to show up and nothing more, how good will you be at it?

I believe innovation is the result of a mindset that is constantly dissatisfied with the status quo. If you’re not, ask different questions so that you are. And as far as "ignorance" in the original statement goes, well isn’t that a part of forging your own path because you are dissatisfied with the "proper way to do things?

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