2011-07-05

The next big thing – if you look for it, you won’t find it

Especially the tech industry is obsessed with finding the next big thing. This post argues that that is usually not a smart thing to do.

  • It makes you unhappy: Will you ever truly perceive the present, if you are always after the future? Constantly looking for the next big thing will never bring you piece, as there will always be something new, something to improve.
  • Success is the wrong focus: To really produce something great, you need to value execution over success. That ensures that you will get the details right and that you will be satisfied even if the product fails. Most products become great because people stay with them and incrementally improve them over time. If you are only after instant success, that will never happen.
  • “Next” is the wrong foucs: Often great products happen as an ever so subtle remix of existing ingredients. For example, there is little in modern smartphones that is completely new. Instead, smartphones are revolutionary due to all of the things that they integrate: powerful software, fast hardware, and many sensors.
  • Can’t be predicted: Innovation cannot be planned – find something you love, a cause worth working for. That is: Don’t do something new, do something well. I like Warren Buffett’s investment method: He looks for companies that he thinks do a solid job and then invests in them. He does not look for the next hype. Quoting Alan Kay:
    The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

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