4 Innovation Lessons From Charles Darwin

1. The Value Of Exploration

When most people think about innovation today, they usually think about things like agility and entrepreneurship. Ambitious young go-getters join a startup and iterate their way to a successful product. The goal is to fail fast and cheap, learn lessons and hit on a successful business model while the money still lasts. If things don’t work out, they join another startup and try again.

2. Innovation Is Combination

Darwin’s experiences on The Beagle weren’t limited to first-hand observations alone. The long journey also gave him ample time to read. One book in particular that influenced him was Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, which described the new theory that helped Darwin interpret his observations of seashells on mountaintops.

3. No Theory Is Perfect

Darwin’s theory has proven to be one of the most successful in the history of science, but it wasn’t perfect. In fact, some aspects of the original theory were gravely mistaken, such as the idea of blending inheritance, which suggested that offspring take on an average of their parents traits.

4. We Can Attack Complexity In Small Pieces

Think back to what it was like to live during Darwin’s time and his theory describes almost unfathomable complexity. Most people lived their entire lives just a few miles from where they were born. Nearly a third of the men and half of women could not read and even for those who were literate, books were too expensive for most to afford.



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Greg Satell

Greg Satell

Bestselling Author of Cascades and Mapping Innovation, @HBR Contributor, - Learn more at www.GregSatell.com — note: I use Amazon Affiliate links for books.