But breakthrough innovation is not smooth. It stutters. It is often overweightand poorly groomed, with dark circles under its eyes from overwork. It comes into the world stumbling and falling, only later to gain Olympic level prowess. When we first see it, it looks like crap.
This poses a problem for organizations who seek to innovate. While they need they need to deliver for customers, investors and employees, there is a constant tension between optimization and innovation. Don’t optimize and you won’t keep up. Don’t innovate and you’ll become irrelevant. You have to do both and it’s not always pretty.
Linus Pauling was an innovator of historic proportions. He is widely acknowledged as the father of molecular biology, combining biology, chemistry and physics in ways that nobody imagined possible before he came along. It’s tough to imagine modern medicine without his work.