Unlocking #Innovation and Supporting Small Circles by Un-Tethering from Institutions

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fred Wilson hammered the nail straight on the head with an insightful post last week about innovation and the fact that innovation is no longer a location-specific trait. Silicon Valley is now competing with the rest of the world for talent, because the rest of the world has the internet. The new innovations are going to be applications on top of the Internet.

Here are Wilson's finer points in this post:

The Internet has made this so, and there's no going back. We will see Apples and Facebooks get built in China, India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and plenty of other places.
New York City has benefited enormously in the past decade from this trend. In technology, it has become the second most active start-up market in the U.S. Sadly, this is not yet true for biotech and energy tech start-ups.
Until recently, "technology" was largely about "moving electrons on wires." Now, "technology" is about building all kinds of interesting applications on top of the Internet. An increasing number of engineers and entrepreneurs are applying their ideas and energy to creating compelling services on the Internet.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but I think innovation is becoming more the standard in more places because the Internet is big, but it also creates hyper local and smaller communities. The future of the Internet depends on people forming micro-communities of talent, conversation style, culture and practical problem solving.

I wrote about this recently when I pointed out that the future is getting bigger and smaller all the time, especially in areas of talent searching, jobs searching and creating disruptive moments for entrepreneurs.

Internet intuition looks like this: The more access people have to information and sources for information, and the more efficiently things like search and network-forming function, the less often they have to cast wide nets, or use broadly based language or calls to action to get things done. They can focus on particular conversations, granular approaches to big data, and intimate social circles.

I mean, look at Google+, right?

This entrepreneur mentions the same thing: put people in smaller circles to attack specific problems in innovation-needing industries, and you will have Clay Christensen style disruption. He writes:

expand the invitation list to the ball. Firms can find a way to bring in more innovative start-ups perhaps by providing smaller courts for the newer players to compete — parallel to whatever is happening at center court — giving them an opportunity to start small, grow bigger from there, aspiring to eventually making it to the big show.
To expand on Wilson's point, it's not just that no city has a lock on innovation. It's that innovation has more opportunities to see itself realized. I think innovation and being innovative is a natural state. In a world where we needed strong and very powerful organizations to move and create change it made sense that we would look to specific geographical areas for innovation, or at superior companies and corporations for the next big thing.

But people are able to unlock innovation and de-tether themselves from these static points now. They can reach out and fill out their gaps in knowledge and technique, tools and trade with other people they might not even know.

This is a very healthy future.

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