Just do it!

<p>I feel so much better today than I did yesterday, having listened to a very inspiring talk on the wonderful <a href="http://sic.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail3570.html">Social Conversations network</a> by an economist at Chicago University, David Galenson. He described his research into creativity. Often work in this area celebrates the young, highly intelligent and conceptually-able genius. In fact, according to most theories of creativity the young genius is the only game in town.</p>
<p>But according to Galenson, there&rsquo;s another type of creativity as well, based much more on exploring, testing, failing, and persevering despite the odds. Experimental innovation is based on experience accrued over a lifetime of hard knocks.</p>
<p>Galenson gives some of the background to the story of Muhammad Yunus, mentioned yesterday by Jonathan Morduch in <a href="allthings/81/Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing-.html">Too Much of A Good Thing</a>. Apparently Yunus spent years in obscurity teaching economics first in small-town USA, then in Bangladesh. Only then was he stirred to&nbsp; found the Grameen Bank and prove the value of micro-lending world-wide, a result which led to the Nobel Peace Prize.</p>
<p>Galenson also makes a serious point about the difference between conceptual and experimental approaches. In the former ideas spring untested from the agile mind. The latter is based on hard won experience of the real world. But as Galenson points out, if we wait for a conceptual idea to be tested and found to be lacking, sometimes it&rsquo;s just too late.</p>
<p>This isn&rsquo;t a new thought. One of my favourite quotes is from Thomas Watson Senior, president of IBM in the first half of last century. He said: &ldquo;If you want to succeed, double your failure rate."</p>
<p>One of the things I love in good business people is how they just get on and do things while the rest (including me sometimes) are still thinking about what would be the best way forward.</p>
<p>Galenson hasn&rsquo;t done that much research into business yet. But he suspects that successful innovation in business is as much about experimental innovation as it is about the other sort.</p>
<p>Which do you think is closer to how business operates? And how will the two styles help us with the issues of sustainability we all face?</p>
<p>The wonderful thing for me personally is that experimental innovation is very much the creativity of late bloomers (I&rsquo;m 50). So there&rsquo;s still hope!</p>