The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on June 19, 2018

Burn your boat

Burn your boat
There are roughly three types of innovation:
  • Opportunity-based innovation
  • Threat-based innovation
  • Appearance-based innovation

The first type is the most positive and has the most potential for success. It’s the kind of innovation where someone finds an opportunity and seizes it. They have nothing (or not much) to lose, and great things to achieve.

The second type of innovation is more common with bigger and more successful companies who are seeing their business being challenged by outside influences. It might be a competitor, a political change, or a disruptive technology. We see this often, and it has a low chance at seeing success. This is logical because taking a leap of faith when you’re afraid is difficult.

The third type is just ‘doing’ innovation when you feel you have to, likely because your competitor does it, but not because you really feel it is essential for your company. You do it for the PR.

If that sounds unlikely to ever happen let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was invited to a conference for media companies. I was announced as ‘the internet kid’ and assumed they were eager to hear about opportunities. Turned out I was just there to have someone to blame for their declining revenue.

At one point I asked them what they would do if I could give them a button that when pressed would delete the world wide web. “Press it!” they shouted. Then I asked them about innovation — if they could pay one sum, do nothing, but would forever be seen as ‘innovators’, would they take that deal? They applauded and cheered and shouted “YES! YES!!!” with no embarrassment.

Most of those media companies are now into the ‘threat-based innovation’ modus, while the real innovation keeps coming from the people who see opportunities. Those people are usually not inside of those big media companies.

If you ever hear someone talking about innovation, see in which category they fall. It will help you decide if they’re going to succeed, and it might help them figure out which category they are too.

P.S.: if you find yourself in the ‘threat’ category, all is not lost. The trick is to remove your vulnerabilities. That’s easier said than done, obviously, so take a lesson from Captain Hernán Cortés. He famously landed in Veracruz and ordered his men to burn their boats. Instead of now having to focus on saving their ships AND conquering a country, they had nothing left to lose, and all their focus went to conquering the land.

What boats are you going to burn to turn your threat-based Innovation into opportunity-based Innovation?

What we’ve been talking about this week:

 One of our editors went to Taiwan and got sucked into the city’s claw machines. She did not win a toy penis.

? This teenage Bitcoin millionaire built a real Dr. Octopus suit for a kid with mobility issues. This even warmed our cold, dead hearts. We’re not crying YOU’RE CRYING.

? A megaphone for amplifying unwanted opinions… a green screen to make your life much better than it is… a buzzing box attached to your face… here are just a few products Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook should most definitely create.

? Facebook’s “On This Day” is now “Memories” and (surprise!) we hate it.

? Net neutrality is officially dead. Somewhere, Ajit Pai is triumphantly patting himself on his stupid back with his very dumb hands .

? India’s central bank admits it banned cryptocurrencies without doing any research on them. We should all have strong opinions on things we know nothing about.

Bye for now!

We have cool newsletters. Subscribe down here: