Every Innovator Is Winging It

This awesome video is doing the rounds at the moment. For some it’s an ‘aha!’ moment when they finally realise the revolution that is Social Media. For the Digitialls, this is yesterday’s bit of viral excitement, giving us confidence that all our time spent on Twitter isn’t wasted :-)

But for me, as I watched yesterday… For me this video runs deeper than ‘there’s a revolution and I’m a part of it.’

I’ve just started reading iCon, one of the more recent Steve Jobs biographies. So far, it’s a gripping read about two guys, selling home made mother boards from a garage and taking their first order for $100,000. No hefty bank backing. No VC funding. No rich mum or dad. No support system. And certainly no prior business experience.

It’s the same feeling I had when I read Roy Jenkin’s definitive biography of Churchill. I always thought he knew what he was doing in WWII, that he was carrying out tactics that he’d learnt in military school and were tried and tested over years and years. But in those pages I discovered an innovator — a man fighting in a war that was always changing, never ‘textbook’ — and that the years of experience helped him make decisions with more confidence and wisdom, but by no means did he know that any strategy they employed was guaranteed to work.

Reading about Jobs and Woz, and comparing them to Churchill, I realise that every great leader and innovator lives on the edge. They do not live within the safe margins of tried and tested, for if they did, they wouldn’t be leaders. War is always changing, technology is always changing, and to be the leader, one must also always be changing, learning, adapting — innovating.

We had a Tweetup earlier this month, and it was rather humbling for a few people to comment on how well I was using social media to connect with people, and they were asking what was next — as if I knew what I was doing and had some manual I was reading from. My confession to every one was “I’m winging it here”, to which Michael Greenland, a person I had just met but already knew, uttered some life changing words: “every innovator is winging it.”

Every innovator is winging it, doing their best to navigate the bleeding edge without getting cut, whilst doing it with the upmost confidence in themselves, their team, and the trends they see.

Twelve years ago, the seeds of this social media, the seeds of this video, were not only being sown, but plowed and watered with much effort. With a vision for something they couldn’t even describe, innovators were making seemingly superfluous things, with nothing more than a hunch to go on. And now, today… Well, you saw the video.

So when I watch this video, I think of those people all those years ago who saw this social media world in their mind’s eye. And as I watch with them in mind, I have a choice. Either I:

  1. Play it safe. Get within the margins. Tweet less and ignore any friendships and business that come from Twitter. Talk about experience less. In fact, forget about experience altogether until it becomes mainstream and someone else was the first there. Stop doing things that I can’t guarantee will work. Listen to my critics and agree that Starbucks sucks. Don’t run ahead of the curve, but get back to doing the safe, old, tried and tested things that don’t bring solutions to new problems. Or,
  2. Embrace the edge. Grow my wings in order to wing it better. Get some guts. Decide to be confident. Ignore the critical, get feedback from the critics but mostly the beneficiaries, and listen to my friends. Lead better and empower more people. Add value through thinking tomorrow’s thoughts and making them available in frameworks today. Do something remarkable before anyone else thought about it. Use all that knowledge and wealth of experience to help people.

I’m going with the second, obviously. And I know you are, too.

Archived Comments

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott,

    To innovate – to make something new, is a noble pursuit indeed.

    To stand out – to be outstanding in the deep, wide ocean of 200,000,000 blogs will require some serious innovation. So much of what we see online is the ‘same-old same-old’ swirling around in eddies of mediocrity. Like the recycled air in a transatlantic flight – stale, beige, boring.

    And so we innovate – driven by visions of El Dorado or an insatiable curiosity or a mad mash of both. It takes boldness and courage to stay the course as we travel from the safe waters of ‘the land of the known’, and venture forth to ‘the land of the yet to be discovered’. It takes hard work and endless buckets of sweat equity to charge on when everybody else has abandoned ship.

    And still we race forth, onwards towards the prize. And so yes, we are indeed..all truly winging it.

    Best, Robin

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott,

    To innovate – to make something new, is a noble pursuit indeed.

    To stand out – to be outstanding in the deep, wide ocean of 200,000,000 blogs will require some serious innovation. So much of what we see online is the ‘same-old same-old’ swirling around in eddies of mediocrity. Like the recycled air in a transatlantic flight – stale, beige, boring.

    And so we innovate – driven by visions of El Dorado or an insatiable curiosity or a mad mash of both. It takes boldness and courage to stay the course as we travel from the safe waters of ‘the land of the known’, and venture forth to ‘the land of the yet to be discovered’. It takes hard work and endless buckets of sweat equity to charge on when everybody else has abandoned ship.

    And still we race forth, onwards towards the prize. And so yes, we are indeed..all truly winging it.

    Best, Robin

  • Scott Gould

    Firstly, I love the poetry here! ONe does need to stand out as opposed to being another bit of recycled air (BTW, I am definitely using that metaphor soon!)

    Guts. Vision. Boldness. Courage. Work. All, as you say, essential qualities.

  • Scott Gould

    Firstly, I love the poetry here! ONe does need to stand out as opposed to being another bit of recycled air (BTW, I am definitely using that metaphor soon!)

    Guts. Vision. Boldness. Courage. Work. All, as you say, essential qualities.

  • /youve-helped-me-find-my-voice/ You’ve Helped Me Find My Voice – scottgould.me

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  • mscottgould

    Robin is very good….
    “Wing It”…. is the name of my sailboat…haha… The boat was named so for the special “winged” keel it is equipped with. This special designed keel allows the boat to perform better . At the time I purchased the boat, it was not the most responsible thing to do financially. But the name fit my circumstances as well as the boats design and now holds true to what I’ve begun to embrace in my life and the world around me. We can plan, set goals, have hopes and dreams but really we are all just “Winging It”..
    A note on confidence:..I ran across this quote by the French writer Alexander Dumas, “A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it”
    I hope this fits the context of your message.
    Regards,
    mscottgould

  • mscottgould

    Robin is very good….
    “Wing It”…. is the name of my sailboat…haha… The boat was named so for the special “winged” keel it is equipped with. This special designed keel allows the boat to perform better . At the time I purchased the boat, it was not the most responsible thing to do financially. But the name fit my circumstances as well as the boats design and now holds true to what I’ve begun to embrace in my life and the world around me. We can plan, set goals, have hopes and dreams but really we are all just “Winging It”..
    A note on confidence:..I ran across this quote by the French writer Alexander Dumas, “A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it”
    I hope this fits the context of your message.
    Regards,
    mscottgould

  • Scott Gould

    Love the boat anecdote – perhaps one day the Scott Gould’s of the
    world will meet on it? :-)

    Great quote on confidence there – certainly one of, if not the vital
    ingredient. I’ve been reading lots of biographies on innovators and it
    is a common thread.

    “He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be
    convinced of it” – so true

  • Scott Gould

    Love the boat anecdote – perhaps one day the Scott Gould’s of the
    world will meet on it? :-)

    Great quote on confidence there – certainly one of, if not the vital
    ingredient. I’ve been reading lots of biographies on innovators and it
    is a common thread.

    “He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be
    convinced of it” – so true

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  • mscottgould

    Did you know there are approximately?264 Scott Gould’s in the world?

    I have room for 4 of us….its not a cruise ship….. :-)

    I am going out sailing?tomorrow, weather permiting….we are in the middle of Monsoon season here.

    Had a small storm blow through last night…we need the rain.

  • mscottgould

    Did you know there are approximately?264 Scott Gould’s in the world?

    I have room for 4 of us….its not a cruise ship….. :-)

    I am going out sailing?tomorrow, weather permiting….we are in the middle of Monsoon season here.

    Had a small storm blow through last night…we need the rain.

  • Scott Gould

    LOL – Well out of the 264 I’m first after you, deal?

    I do hear there is W.Scott Gould, the politician. It would be an
    interesting trip….

  • Scott Gould

    LOL – Well out of the 264 I’m first after you, deal?

    I do hear there is W.Scott Gould, the politician. It would be an
    interesting trip….

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