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    Default Great (Wo)men and Warm Bodies. Two Extreme Theories of Innovation

    Some people believe that innovation is driven by great men and women of superior creative talent nurtured for years before they make innovations.

    Others believe that just about anyone will do; as long as you have someone doing each task in your formula that is necessary, that is all that is needed.

    Of course these are not the only options, but what do you think of these ideas?

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  2. #2
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    I think both have their merits. The first one is obviously understandable. You can't really discount the importance of the random lucky encounter that leads to innovation and I suppose that that is where the second idea would come from (of course, it would still have to be a person that knew how to make use of such an encounter). I suppose if a computer can solve a problem that people can't then that would be the equivalent of warm bodies.

    Have you read Outliers? It's not so much about innovation as it is about general success but I think a lot of the ideas still apply (people that we believe are just talented actually had a combination of extraordinary luck and extensive training).
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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Some people believe that innovation is driven by great men and women of superior creative talent nurtured for years before they make innovations.

    Others believe that just about anyone will do; as long as you have someone doing each task in your formula that is necessary, that is all that is needed.

    Of course these are not the only options, but what do you think of these ideas?
    A rudimentary knowledge of social stratification and social struggles prevents me from assenting to the great man theory of history to be honest, there's lots of brighter or cleverer people who are excluded from success on the basis of others who are more vicious or just broken as human beings occupying pride of place.

    I do think that personalities can be important but I dont believe any of the Crusoe-esque utopianism of liberalism, much as I dislike it the conservative theories about how well specific elites or interest groups fair and find favour make more sense to me, the success of individuals can be a reflection of that.

    Steve Jobs success I believe was as much to do with Apple being in such a crisis they were willing to take a gamble on him as it was about his own unique blessings or talents.

    I also believe that innovation is helped or hindered by the broader spectrum changes in society, culture, the power to produce, the demand stimulus and supply side, than it is by singular individuals.

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Some people believe that innovation is driven by great men and women of superior creative talent nurtured for years before they make innovations.

    Others believe that just about anyone will do; as long as you have someone doing each task in your formula that is necessary, that is all that is needed.

    Of course these are not the only options, but what do you think of these ideas?
    In my History of Science classes, the "great wo/men" theory was contrasted with the influence of society. In other words: were advances driven by these talented individuals, or by broader forces and needs in contemporary society? The second presumes that if there is some need or pressure to do something, someone will rise to the challenge and answer it.

    As with many questions about whether an effect was caused by A or B, I tend to favor some combination of A + B. Yes, there were individuals of great talent, but they could not have been nurtured the same way in a different place or time. Yes, society had some need or driving circumstances, but the talented individual was able to shape and take advantage of them in a way that another would not have.
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    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Yes I've thought about it before and agree with @Coriolis... it is probably a combination.
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    I believe there is a base aggregate of irrepressible progression with coinciding circumstances of punctuated equilibrium.

    The latter is certainly more flavorful, but I also like hearing about odd cases of invention and discovery.

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