Is Innovation good for humanity? #63 #cong17

By Emma Commerford and Lorraine Ni Fhloinn.

The word innovation is attached to all new products as a descriptor. If you do not include the word in marketing collateral for your new product you will be admonished by a cadre of experts and barraged with an arsenal of vague and confusing roadmaps for “innovation”.

Many “innovative” products are lauded as DISRUPTERS. The aim is to smash up existing delivery methods, destroy them completely, and replace them with some new “innovative” service.  For example Uber was lauded as the darling of tech disruption but in reality it has destroyed the yellow cab industry in New York City.                          

Is this a good thing?

Initially it appears to be good for consumers. A convenient car service, which you can manage from a smartphone. But is UBER really all that different from hailing a yellow cab, or calling a private car using your actual human voice?

No, it isn’t.

Consumers always had an easy and fast way to get private transportation from A to B. Providing consumers with a new way to call a car (via an app) has resulted in the destruction of family businesses and jobs. These jobs have been replaced by tenuous positions at a company that prides itself on DISRUPTING, is known to have a toxic and predatory work environment, and only cares about share prices. In essence many small businesses have been blown out of the water by this behemoth, and the behemoth has taken their labor and capitalised on it, while providing no job security, benefits, and offering no loyalty of any kind. This destruction is lauded as innovative and exciting but it just another hostile takeover of an industry by one faceless corporation who cares little for consumers or employees.

Maybe you have no time for Marxist theories of capitalism or indeed depressing rants of any kind as you are too busy coming up with fantastic, unique, exciting, state-of-the-art products or services?  Mostly ones that solve global problems and will make the world a better place (take that you dreary Leninites). So far so ground breaking, as luck would have it the entire world and their cup-cake baking Mammies are launching start-ups.  So in order to jump on the entrepreneurial gravy train all you have to do is the following:

Work all morning, right through noon and for most of the night trying to do one of the following:

a. design, develop, test and debug software or pay / exploit someone in a developing country to do it for you (spoiler alert you will be old and grey and spoon fed by robots long before you have even communicated your high level requirements to them)

b. design, prototype, test and “tweak” a physical product for approximately 3 years before you realise that the cost of making the moulds is akin to the GDP of the country where your developers currently reside (see previous brilliant idea).

c.  Do whatever people do who invent medical devices which to the best of the authors knowledge involves wrapping miniature bicycle parts in a balloon prior to insertion into an actual person

In your spare time you will be doing all of the following:

Constantly self publicising on a multitude of online platforms involving:

  • writing blogs for no material gain
  • making vlogs for no material gain - the justification and term used is to give yourself exposure – in a world of Harvey Weinsteins what does that even mean?
  • Harassing friends and family to like all of the above
  • Making predictions on future earnings that are nonsensical but necessitate hours pouring over excel spreadsheets like a numeric Mystic Meg
  • Committing to hiring 10 people in 3 years or 8 people in 2 years (insert appropriate number and timeline) to get government funding, proving that you will contribute to the reduction of the figures on the live register thereby making them look good.  In actual fact you are constantly being urged to seek out and hire experts in Marketing, Sales, Finance etc.  the last time I was in my local DSP office the number of CFOs and executive directors hanging around looking for a CE scheme was relatively low.
  • Making sure your new company has a tone, a brand, an amazing functioning website and actual sales before you are deemed worthy of funding or support - Innovation Catch 22 alert You Will Only Ever Get THE MONEY Once You Dont Need It
  • Being a complete expert on every area of running a business although you have no training, background or experience in any of these areas
  • Juggling the paranoic “dont tell anyone your idea, they will immediately steal it and make milliions” with the “put yourself out there or it will never happen”, usually after roughly 5 years trying to make the Herculean leap from Idea to Start Up to Profitable Business you would quite happily just give it away so that somebody somewhere may benefit from your original idea (which you can’t even remember anymore anyway).
  • Attending every start-up junket and innovation event in order to network and make contacts, the depressing fact is that these events are not attended by angel investors brandishing their bulging cheque books just waiting to be charmed by your idea/smile/crappy wordpress site but and here is the thing, they are full of people like you desperately looking for help, advice and a way of making the last of their life savings stretch for just one more month.
  • Watching the inspirational, cult like musings of internet personalities who are so successful that they no longer need any syllables in their names being instantly recognisable as just Z or V or B.

Like all religious concepts “innovation” and what it represents today is impossible to describe but it is greeted with fervor and lack of doubt. It has sprung up it’s own priests and priestesses who give sermons on it’s value, and produce books to recruit us. Humanity does not need to have it’s own creativity and natural ability for problem solving explained. The innovation movement is the modern equivalent of snake oil being sold by shysters.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie