18 March 2005

Originality & Discipline

I haven't recommended Hugh MacLeod's blog (www.gapingvoid.com) in the past 'cause he has a tendency to use language that I frankly disapprove of (sorry - guess I'm a bit of a prude in that department). Having said that, I must admit I check his blog just about everyday... 'cause in addition to being frequently profane he's also often profound.

His main topic is marketing, but he has a lot to say about creativity, innovation and communication. And his cartoons crack me up (and make me think). Here's an excerpt worth checking out:

the biggest problem in the Western world is oversupply.
For every company needing to hire an ad agency or design firm, there's dozens out there, willing and able. For every person wanting to buy a new car, there's tons of car makers and dealers out there. I could on and on.

I could also go on about how many good people I know are caught in oversupplied markets, and how every day they wake up, feeling chilled to the bone with dread and unease. Advertising and media folk are classic examples.

So maybe the thing is to is get into "The Tao of Undersupply".
If only 100 people want to buy your widgets, then just make 90 widgets. If only 1000, make 900. If only 10 million, make 9 million. It isn't rocket science, but it takes discipline. It also requires you to stop making the same stuff as other people. Doing that requires originality and invention.

Like it said in "How To Be Creative", don't try to stand out from the crowd, avoid crowds altogether.

How are we doing here in the lab? Are we doing stuff that nobody else is doing? Or are we just part of the crowd? Do we have the discipline to be different?

If we're one more shiny piece of technology in a vast sea of similar gadgets, no wonder technology transition is rare. Maybe we're just offering too much of the same, and not enough that is genuinely unique (and if your offering is unique, you've probably got people knocking on you door all the time...)

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