Mobile Insight

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Twin-yolk eggs, Credit Crunch and Innovation

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Tim Harford, aka The Undercover Economist, has an interesting post about the probability of finding twin-yolk eggs and how that relates to the credit crunch. He concludes

So there are two thinking styles here. One is to solve the probability problem as posed. The other is to apply some common sense to figure out whether the probability problem makes any sense. We need both. Common sense can be misleading, but so can precise-sounding misspecifications of real world problems.

There is a parallel here to innovation too. Too often we tend to jump into innovation exercises and endeavors without enough questioning of the premise itself. The next time someone asks you to build a better search engine, better phone or better whatever, take a step back and ask if that’s the right way to frame the problem and if the problem is worth solving. Twitter didn’t try to build a better Facebook but instead came up with an alternate model for fulfilling a similar need: social networking. They are addressing the needs of their users in very different ways.

Asking “Can you build something better than X?” is not enough. Make sure you have answers for “What needs are we trying to address?” and “Are there alternate and novel ways to address those needs?” You will end up in a very different place.

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Written by Varma Chanderraju

February 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

Posted in Innovation

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