Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seven Rules of Innovation

[via WhiteAfrican]

Blogger extraordinaire Ethan Zuckerman outlines his seven rules of innovation, which I fully agree with. These were derived from the notion "...that innovation often comes from unusual and difficult circumstances - constraints - and that it’s often wiser to look for innovation in places where people are trying to solve difficult, concrete problems rather than where smart people are sketching ideas on blank canvases."

Here are his seven rules:

- innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.)

- don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)

- embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.)

- innovate on existing platforms (We’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech.)

- problems are not always obvious from afar (You really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones.)

- what you have matters more than what you lack (If you’ve got a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop.)

- infrastructure can beget infrastructure (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa - see my writings on incremental infrastructure.)

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