Some thoughts on innovation

A real innovative new concept. Isn’t that what we all want to invent? To be part of the Uber-cool people that start creative companies to become the next Silicon Valley internet millionaire? But what is best in the promised land of cool concepts?

The best concepts are concepts that think out of the box, of course. Well, not too far out of the box if you want to make fast money. Concepts like Uber, Snapchat or LinkedIn are always connected to the real world here and now and cannot, by any means, look at things that don’t make fast money in the near future. And therefore these concepts might seem cool but are bound to fail in the long run.

A Facebook that does respect privacy will emerge, eventually. And when this new Facebook look-a-like gets outdated too because they again forgot to focus on more than just money-making, some other site will dive into the next internet-niche.

There is in this Internet Era we live in, evolving a huge misunderstanding. We are starting to think that everything that exists on this planet is constantly innovating, or changing. We seem to have forgotten our great philosophers that have spent all of their lives discovering that there’s one thing that never changes: nature itself. But real truth doesn’t seem to have any relevance anymore — because there’s no app for it to get it on our iPhone. The idea that nothing will be stable anymore together with the adoration of fast money makes every cool concept therefore only successful for a relatively short period.

But there is a way to hang on a bit longer than the hype: the key is to focus your innovation on improving quality of life — in stead of on money. Examples of the latter exist of course. People who share knowledge on the internet are widely spread. Wikipedia groups a lot of these people together — and is therefore important for the future of human beings.

Yet it doesn’t make money fast. That is because internet allows us to do something far more interesting: it allows us to make almost every dream real. And we should not dream of driving around people we don’t know, nor should we dream of spending hours of our precious time letting other people know what our newest job-activity is. Only boring jobs get updated on LinkedIn — everybody knows that.

So let’s talk about passion now. And about the booming business of freelancers. Uber needs them. A lot of them. Preferably looking for extra money in a — still — cheap second job that attracts people telling them they will be their own boss. IT companies need them big time. To use them for a while and, when the job is done, throw them away or let’s say let them hop on to another job ‘opportunity’. If they can find one — and there are single-minded websites covering that need for a new job too, of course.

But let’s be honest: all this is not what we dreamed about when we were young. It has nothing to do with passion. We should not forget that we haven’t evolved into a lot more than a big-brained animal. We are still part of the ecosystem, just like the birds and the bees. We need a social context that stays with us and lets us grow and prosper. To discover and use our talents, in order to ignite our passion and develop our shortcomings in living the good life. For the well being of ourselves and society. A social context that supports us when we are in need, that allows us to help the system when the system is in need.

This ecosystem can vary and change, but it should not be single-minded, only focused on profit, based on one-dimensional work-skills of people or meaningless pleasure. Because the difference between human beings and other animals is that we tend to think logically instead of constantly follow our instincts. And we can even do better than that, because next to thinking logically, we are able to dream.

Every human being is worth way more than something he happens to do for a living. We should not only be rewarded, and not only with money, for what we do for a living, we should be rewarded for what we do in our whole, social, life. Not only the social life with our colleagues but also with our family and friends. And don’t forget our social behavior with our passions — the ones that are not rewarded with a contract but with dreams that can, now more easily than ever, become reality.

I never came across someone who said: my happiness depends on my job more than on my social life. Nevertheless, the social aspect of human beings is all too often being given away to sites like Facebook, sites that sell every information we share with them. Of course the reply of many freelancers will be: what exactly is the problem? We are free, we do what the market needs, and we make money.

But real happiness, the thing that should be the goal of every human being in order to contribute to a happy society, only comes from feeling a needed part of a continually developing ecosystem. Of a social group that fits your needs and that needs you for longer than one or two assignments. A system that provides you with all your basic needs. Some people call it money, but it’s way more.

Work and private life get more and more mixed in the near future, so we should get loose of the idea that freelance work (for a piece wage) is some sort of a solution or a goal we should desperately want to reach. In an unconscious race to the bottom: our own ‘company’, focusing on a niche market that brings in loads of money, rewarding one single-minded skill. For it doesn’t contribute enough to the social, intellectual life we should be passionate about.

The dream of being your own boss by doing what your passion is, realistically often is something employers abuse to hire people for short periods of time after which they can more easily get rid of them. So long for your passion, soon after you got paid a piece wage for the precious hours you have in your life for doing what makes you happy, you will be struggling on your own again, to solve the day to day challenges of life.

Although this confusing marketing-trick of stolen dreams tries to let us think otherwise, we still need the person behind the freelance ‘boss’, for another, very interesting skill. Their ability to dream is something we cannot let go when the job is done. Because the future is, in this internet era more than ever, build on the thoughts, the knowledge and the dreams of every single human being.

Being paid a correct and stable salary for work that is valued and rewarded with social interaction in our ecosystem is what it’s all about. And of course you may want to specialize, focus, or — they exist — cover a whole range of subjects or assignments. But let’s remember where every human being comes from, where we’re good at and what we need. We are social animals that like to be really rewarded for our talents instead of only getting money.

And when we get rewarded, it should be because of the fact that we are making our dreams, and the dreams of the ecosystem surrounding us, come true. Dreams that not only let us innovate in order to get some cheap and short-term pleasure, but dreams that let us excel through our talents and our passion for real innovation; the innovation that comes from evolving to the next level of civilization.

© J. Mekkes