Innovation Overload: So Many Technologies, So Little Time
We live in a world of continual innovation. Innovation is the new benchmark of business success. It is the driver of increased efficiency and quality in just about everything we do. In short, innovation defines our contemporary experience.
This is a good thing, right? Every moment of every day a better mousetrap is revealed to us. We now have virtually unlimited choices in every area of our life, often where just a few years ago we had just a few, or one, or even none at all.
Are you on Facebook? MySpace? Do you "Tweet?" What blog platform do you use? How about newsletters? How do manage your calendar, your contacts, your tasks? Mac or PC? Windows or Linux? What about cloud computing?
How do you deal with it all? How can you possibly select, much less master, the technologies, techniques and methodologies that can help you work, play, communicate and live most effectively and efficiently, when a whole new batch debuts every few days, or even minutes?
And what if you are an innovator yourself? How can you possibly stay ahead of the curve? Certainly there must always be someone better, faster, brighter or more informed.
This is actually a very interesting problem we have today, one we face for the first time in human history. Our challenge isn't that we don't have the ability to do things as quickly or efficiently as we'd like; it's that we have too many ways to do them. The net result, for many, is paralysis.
If you're old enough to remember such things, it used to be pretty simple to pick out a new television to buy. You'd go to the department store, compare all the pictures and price tags, and then choose the set that looked best to your eye and your wallet. Not any more. Today you're faced with a seemingly endless list of decisions, from display technology to connectivity options - and yes, even picture quality and price.
If you're a card-carrying tech geek, none of this concerns you. Such things are your life, your passion, your hobby, your whole world. But if you're one of the poor schlubs who is just trying to function with reasonable effectiveness in this dizzying innovation-drunk world, here are a few thoughts to help clear your head.
1. ACCEPT DEFEAT. Well, not literally, but start off by simply understanding that you will never be an expert at everything. No one is. Again, years ago there were simply not that many things to be an expert at. Most of us were lucky if we mastered one thing. Today we are expected to be proficient at many. Simply by recognizing and accepting that knowing everything isn't possible, it frees your mind and attention for strategizing how to best tackle your challenges.
2. GET HELP. Fortunately, while you can't be an expert at everything, there are experts at everything you need to know about. Everything you require, someone else already does. And never before has that expertise been more available to you than it is today. Getting help can take many forms, from hiring a consultant or service provider to simply doing some good old-fashioned online research. A world of assistance and information is literally at your fingertips. If you need cost-effective, expert help, try Elance.com. You can find really smart, talented people who will compete for the opportunity to assist you.
3. DON'T BE FICKLE. Find something that works for you and stick with it. One of the most dangerous, time consuming and costly mistakes you can make is constantly changing the technology or methodology you use to do something. Find solutions that meet your needs, become as proficient at them as you can (or line up the help you need) and then stop looking elsewhere-at least for a while. At the same time, try to remain aware of what's going on in the world. When a paradigm-changing innovation appears (like the iPhone, for example) consider making a quantum leap, and starting the process again.
4. GET YOURSELF TOGETHER. Every day our attention is pulled in countless directions. Literally thousands of tasks, bits of information, messages, and sales pitches compete for our time and focus. Take a proactive approach to organizing your activities. There are many ways to do this. One of the best is the "Getting Things Done" (abbreviated as GTD) time management program by David Allen, which you can learn all about in his book by the same name.
Despite the numerous challenges facing many of us today, this is an exciting time. Never before has so much been possible. Open your mind to the opportunities around you, stay focused, choose your challenges carefully, and you'll be able to make innovation your greatest ally.