A biography of innovations: from birth to maturity
In the preceding chapters, ideas and innovation were humanized by viewing the innovator, his or her work and the application areas which engaged the innovator—through the innovator’s eyes. It was in this way that innovation was postulated to have stages of life, much like a human being. The stages of life are not about the product only but also about the innovator as a person. Products do have their own stages of life, popularly called product life-cycle.
In the context of this book, the stages of life are about the goingson from an innovator’s perspective and through the lenses that the innovator is using. This makes it easier to understand why innovators feel proprietary emotions for their innovation and idea, just as a parent experiences possessive emotions for his or her child.
There exist many popular perceptions. For example, some people are more innovative than others, or some fields and applications lend themselves more to innovation than other fields, or that some technologies are inherently more exciting than others. Steve Jobs is reported to have expressed the view, ‘It is a disease to think that a really great idea is 90 per cent of the work.’ Jobs argued that an idea has no value until it converts into a product manifestation through what he called craftsmanship, which is what stands between a great idea and a great product. The idea turns, twists, mutates and changes all the time as it is being converted into a product. In this process of innovation, novelty and consumer delight are added. The final product may bear little resemblance to the original idea.
Consider, for example, the Arabian peninsula. Before I went to live and work in Arabia in the 1990s, I had already visited the region in the 1970s. Dubai was a nondescript habitation in the middle of the desert. I would never have visited Dubai or Abu Dhabi were it not for the fact that I had work to do there, and also because it enabled me to buy a few odds and ends for the family in import-starved India! When I read about the ruler’s visions and ideas, it all seemed fanciful and dreamy. Yet, fifty years later, in 2015, the Dubai International Airport surpassed London’s Heathrow with its 78 million passengers. Dubai is a major hub for air travellers. The