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Change Caused by Innovation

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
Change Caused by Innovation

As a result of some digital spring cleaning I was doing, I found and was listening to old shows from 2005 - the first year of my podcast. Honestly, given what I know now, I wish could have re-written and re-recorded them. The technology and tools now available to podcasters are far superior to what we had back in those early days.

This got me to thinking about how wonderful innovation is and how easy is for us to overlook it.

Fifty years ago, we lived in a way that would be considered a burden today. When we catch a glimpse of those days in old movies and TV shows, we laugh and shake our heads. We used to think the cars from back then were great, not to mention the clothes.

This looking back reminds us that past routines, past way of doing things, are exactly that -- the past. There is a better way to do almost everything. We must remind ourselves that a thing which has never done before doesn’t mean it cannot be done at all.

I can remember when I was a kid before central air conditioning was considered normal. During the hot humid summers in Chicago, the only way to cool the house was with a small window air conditioner in the kitchen.  This then dictated that everyone in the family slept on the tile floor in the kitchen in order to get some relief. Many a night, the five of us, my parents, my brother and my grandmother all crowded into the kitchen or in the doorway trying to catch some cool air so that we could some sleep.

How would you like to go back to those days? While is great to be nostalgic about the past, I can’t imagine going without the innovations we have today.

Change from innovation is inevitable. Today we take pride and comfort in our modern world, and seldom think twice about it, as I’m sure we seldom did in the old days. Hindesite is 20/20. Could we have predicted the radical changes that occurred over the last 50 years? Think about it. We put a man on the moon, invented the personal computer, launched the internet, introduced mobile phones,  not to mention the millions of apps and tools we now have access to.

From personal experience, I give thanks to the innovations that led to central airconditioning becoming a scalable and accessible product for millions around the world.

Given our ability to gain perspective of the past, could we predict the innovations that will impact our lives in twenty years? Even 10 years from now, we will look back to today and smile and shake our heads at how primitive we were in so many ways. Our cars of today will look primitive in 10 years, not to mention our clothes.

In 10 years, what will you be doing? Where will you be living? What job will you have and what will be your income? Where will you vacation?

What are your plans for the next 10 years? What are your goals? In order for a goal to be effective, it must effect change.  What can you learn during the next 10 years that will change the future?

The most effective way to cope with the change is to help create it.

The only thing you can know for sure is that everything will change. Can you predict and anticipate some of this change and by doing so, be years ahead of others? If you don’t and others can, you will find yourself at a clear disadvantage by having change surprise you.

My grandfather used to tell me a story of two neighbors, Bill and Ted. Bill always brought his dog that loved cats. Ted had a cat that hated dogs. Whenever Bill came to visit Ted, his dog would come along. The dog would chase the cat up the maple tree in Ted’s yard. This same scene would take place every time Bill came to visit. After a couple of years, Ted cut down the tree.  A couple of days later Bill and his dog came to visit. Out around the house ran the cat with the dog right on its tail. Suddenly, about thirty feet in the air, the cat realized that something had changed …

Don’t be the cat.

Today we smile when thinking about the past, and in the future, we will be smiling back as we think about today.

Reminds me of a sign I saw at a roadside gas station: “If you continue as you have in the past, where will you be in five years from now?”

Something to think about.

I’m Phil McKinney … and thanks for listening.


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Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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