Don’t Start From Scratch: How Innovative Ideas Arise

Tara H

Tara H

Sep 30, 20233 min read


Don’t Start From Scratch: How Innovative Ideas Arise

In the quest for innovation and creative progress, many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we need to start from scratch. We believe that true innovation requires us to throw out all previous ideas and innovations and completely reimagine the world. However, the reality is that the most creative innovations are often new combinations of old ideas. Innovative thinkers don't create, they connect. They iterate, rather than originate.

It's easy to see why we often assume that innovative ideas and meaningful changes require a blank slate. When business projects fail, we tend to say things like, "Let's go back to the drawing board." We believe that starting over is the only way to truly come up with something new and groundbreaking. However, this notion is flawed.

In reality, true innovation occurs when we connect existing ideas and concepts in novel ways. Rather than discarding everything that came before, we should focus on finding the common points and connecting them naturally. By building upon what already exists, we can create something truly innovative and groundbreaking.

To illustrate this point, let's take a look at the world of digital photo organization. In a blog post titled "Digital Photo Organization - Get Organized HQ," the author provides valuable insights on how to efficiently organize your ever-growing collection of digital photos.

One of the key pieces of advice offered in the post is the importance of regularly going through your photos and deleting the ones you don't need. This may seem like a simple and straightforward task, but it's easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you have a large backlog of photos to go through. The author recommends resisting the temptation to immediately dive into your backlog. Instead, focus on deleting unnecessary photos from your most recent collection.

This advice resonates with the idea of not starting from scratch. Rather than attempting to organize your entire photo collection all at once, which can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task, start with the most recent photos. By tackling smaller, more manageable portions of your collection, you can make progress without feeling overwhelmed.

In the context of digital photo organization, this approach allows you to build upon what already exists. You don't need to delete all your photos and start from scratch. Instead, you can iterate and improve your organization system over time, gradually organizing and deleting photos as you go along.

The same principle applies to innovation and creative progress in other domains. Rather than discarding all previous ideas and innovations, we can connect them in new and meaningful ways. By building upon what already exists, we can create something truly innovative and groundbreaking.

So, how can we apply this principle to our own lives and work? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace the power of iteration: Instead of constantly seeking completely new ideas, focus on iterating and improving upon existing ones. Look for opportunities to connect and combine different ideas, building upon what already exists.
  • 2. Start small: Just like organizing your digital photos, don't feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of a task. Break it down into smaller, manageable portions and tackle them one at a time. By starting small, you can make progress without feeling overwhelmed.
  • 3. Emphasize connection: Look for common points and connections between different ideas and concepts. It's often through these connections that innovative ideas arise. By actively seeking out these connections, you can unlock new and exciting possibilities.

In conclusion, true innovation and creative progress are rarely the result of starting from scratch. Instead, they come from connecting existing ideas and concepts in new and meaningful ways. By embracing the power of iteration, starting small, and emphasizing connection, we can foster a culture of innovation and create something truly groundbreaking. So, the next time you find yourself facing a creative challenge, remember: don't start from scratch, but rather connect and iterate.

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