I write about the things that matter to me. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Innovation Is Supposed To Feel Bad, Not Good

Skiing Day 2

When you work for an innovative person, it is actually like living underneath skis.

There they are, flying high, doing all sorts of exciting stunts. And you are looking up from underneath.

You know they're going to land, right? And when that happens, boy will it make a big mess.

If you are snow, you can only look forward to losing your clean, white, smooth surface. That calm you worked so hard to achieve...ruined.

Some days the innovator walks on the snow instead of skis. And it's actually worse.

But the practicalities of navigating a slope cannot be avoided. You can't fly all the time.

So they're slogging around, and your beautiful snow is even more dredged up. Destroyed.

But what if you, yourself are the innovator? Is it any better then?

Not really.

Because all the while you are soaring here is what you have to think about:

* This feels good...now.

* Is there going to be enough snow to catch me when I land? Did someone take care of that?

* If this one works out, what is going to be my next big trick?

For all of these reasons, being an innovator feels bad, not good.

The truth is, we have to innovate all the time. If we fail, our competitors will come up and take our places. We may not feel that happening right away, but it does nevertheless.

So people should know that innovation is not only necessary, but painful.

Pain is easier when you know what to expect.

For example, those new-fangled workplaces -- they won't necessarily feel good.

Those open-air cube farms we built - people hate those!

But they may perform better at home, telecommuting part or all of the time and losing the permanent desk altogether.

Things are always changing. Some people get that. So they wake up, they learn, they adapt.

Change is life.

Other people stamp their feet and struggle.

I am not of the belief that we should spend all of our time apologizing for the pain of innovation. Or any of it, really. It's a fact.

I do think we should work harder at telling people what they should expect along the way from Point A, to Point B, to infinity and beyond.

They need to know that the future is uncertain - that expectations are higher than ever - that resources are short and the full gamut of their skills will be called on in ways they could never have anticipated.

Innovation feels bad, because the future is not secure.

But then again, isn't that the fun of it as well?

* All opinions my own.