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Rethinking the concept of “outliers”: Why non-experts are better at disruptive innovation

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"My destiny calls and I go,

And the wild winds of fortune

Will carry me onward,

Oh whithersoever they blow. "

Seriously tho, outsiders do not suffer the tyranny of the familiar. They don't 'know' it 'can't be done' and they bring a fresh perspective.

Why not have developers in our legislatures? Why not directly include legal compliance into a development process? Why not treat entrenched oligarchies as a defect and simply route around it?

Interesting use of Elon Musk as a counter-example to 10,000 hours:

The real disruptors will be those individuals who are not steeped in one industry of choice with those coveted 10,000 hours of experience, but instead, individuals who approach challenges with a clean lens, bringing together diverse experiences, knowledge, and opportunities.

I'd argue that Elon Musk did have 10,000 hours of experience as an entrepreneur before starting Tesla Motors and SpaceX. He may not have been a domain expert, but he was a startup expert.

Developers won't join the legislatures any time soon. Not when there's so much great software that remains to be built!

Can't disagree with that (w/r/t developer/legislators)...

was thinking about the developer/legislature points. here's the process model i see - and i am using:

1. entrepreneur heeds their calling to make that THING they HAVE TO MAKE

2. entrepreneur immediately sees what resources are missing

3. entrepreneur looks to existing infrastructure to source the gaps

4. existing infrastructure falls short of needs or stonewalls/doesn't get it

5. entrepreneur says, eff this, i'll do it myself

6. entrepreneur pulls a few key types of people together and rallies a startup culture

7. entrepreneur kills 2 (or 10) birds with one stone and in the process of bringing these few people together creates a network, finds resources, and creates a buzz around the culture because when things fast in a culture used to not moving much at all, people notice

8. people (policy types) start knocking on entrepreneur's door wanting to know (now) how they can help

9. entrepreneur let's them in and they get an immersion in a new way of thinking

10. things happen

11. entrepreneur slays the dragon (launches startup)

12. go back to #1

13. repeat

oh, and i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about TESLA Motors!! felt like i should disclose that in the spirit of truth and disclosure ;O)

I'm sure outsiders can contribute outside the box ideas but those will be overwhelmed by a lot of ignorant ideas.

The research says that the problem is with the mediocre specialists.

Those who have done their time, knee deep in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, they are actually the MOST creative:

Steve Jobs used to say that creativity is just connecting things.

If you bring an expertise to a new field, you might make a connection that that field's experts couldn't see.

...solving a problem people didn't know they had - or seeing a solution they couldn't see and making a difference. love that.

I can't recall the exact studies right now, but one of my friends wrote a book about innovation called "The Medici Effect." The key thing the research reveals is that most innovation is applying the ideas of one discipline or culture to another.

Innovation often comes from outsiders *because* they bring the ideas of a different field to bear. But to succeed still requires 10,000 of deliberate practice; it may simply be that those 10,000 hours took place in a different field.

I'd argue that Elon Musk did have 10,000 hours of experience as an entrepreneur before starting Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

This is a little dubious. Although I think entrepreneurship is a skill that you can get better and (and teach) I don't think there's a single person on the planet (including any serial entrepreneurs) that have logged 10k hours on it because it's composed of many many fine grained skills from ideation, to networking, to operations, to marketing, to building, etc.

Possibly Elon, and other great serial entrepreneurs out there do have the two key skills that trump all others needed for building a business:

  • Identifying one's own weak points
  • Recruiting

I agree with everything said about the outsiders, but many times there are insiders who have these exact same ideas. Unfortunately not many of them are entrepreneurs and when their ideas get drowned out, they get frustrated but move on, but they had the right insight.

For example, since everyone is talking about Tesla, GM built electric cars back in the 90's, but killed the idea for a myriad of reasons. It took an outsider like Musk to ignore those reasons, but he also did not have the pressures from all the oil companies, vendors, partners, etc that the Big 3 have in place. Sometimes it's easier to operate as an outsider, not that you are able to see something that insiders cannot.

Insiders can also be complacent and not want to cannibalize their own business models and are ripe for disruption. Ask Blockbuster, if you can find them. Unlike Netflix, who was willing to disrupt their own model (not in the best fashion) but was still looking toward the future.

I don't buy it. Selection bias...We hear about those who are non-experts because it is newsy. The "I don't know it can't be done gene" screws, (and sometimes, kills!) more people than it helps. They fall off in the trash heap and you don't hear of them. And the experts who exhibit the "I don't know it can't be done" behavior...they get labeled "determined."

Become an expert. Go deep. Shallow is for those who need luck.

The more I think about it, the more I think you're right, Kurt.

For all intents and purposes, everyone who succeeds has the depth of lots of practice.

Those who don't have depth, are a rounding error.

... and NO ONE caught the Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote) reference?

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