The prerequisite of innovation

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Knowing what is possible is the first step, the pre-requisite of innovation.

If you don’t know what you can do, if you don’t know what tools you have in your toolkit and what their capabilities are, you certainly don’t know what can be invented. On the one hand, you risk re-inventing the wheel. On the other hand, your ability to transcend your limitations is confined by the fact that you don’t know what your limitations are, and thus your perspective is inevitably smaller than it should be.

For example, the other night I was working on developing against the Moz social authority API. I knew what it was capable of, what it did, what it didn’t do, and from that basic understanding, I could begin writing mediocre code on top of it. I’m not a wonderful coder by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough to know what is possible and what I can – and cannot – do.

How do you get there, in the sense of knowing what is possible? You have to do the work. You have to, as Tom Webster says, do your own work, learn the rudiments and basics yourself, learn what you are capable of, so that you aren’t relying on someone else’s interpretation (and biases) of what is possible. The reality is that you are surrounded by and have full access to learn almost anything when it comes to marketing and technology tools online. There’s Code Academy, Scratch, Google’s learning programs, and everything else – most of it free. The knowledge is yours for the taking, waiting there in front of you.

Go get it.


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