The Upside of Innovation is Serendipity

I cannot for the life of me remember where I heard that ‘innovation is the cost of serendipity’. However, since I heard it, I cannot get it out of my head.

About 8 weeks ago I was on a plane to Zurich. I was visiting a customer on the Swiss/German border. I got speaking to the guy sat next to me. It turns out he was the brother of a friend of mine. And in fact my friend, his sister, had introduced me to my fiancé in their family house six years ago.

The conversation moved to our work and why we were travelling to Zurich. When I mentioned I was in the software business he told me about his cousin, who happens to be a venture capitalist, one of only a few in Amsterdam. He said he would introduce me, which he did, and on Friday I met his cousin for a coffee.

Innovation is costly, in terms of the money and energy you spend on it and, when it goes wrong, in terms of loss of reputation and shame (if you are that way inclined). These are the downsides of innovation.

The upside of innovation is serendipity. It was a happy meeting with the investor on Friday because I actually had something to say, actually had a story to tell. The cost of that story was all the work we’ve done in the last few months.

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