Tag Archives: Peter Thiel

On Innovation, Paradigm Shifts, and Intentional (Or Unintentional) Blindness

Here’s an article by Ryan McCarthy that describes how Nokia could have been ahead of the game on the iPhone type phone, and then dropped the ball: Counterparties: Why big companies are bad at innovating.

…as early as 2000, the Finnish phone maker had designed a proto-iPhone – complete with a color touch screen and geo-location, gaming, and e-commerce capabilities.  

This McCarthy article, quoting Peter Thiel, (actually, this “criticism” is kind of swirling around on the internet right now) describes how big companies might just get too big to innovate.  The bigger they get, the more “set” they become, and the more blind they become to a great new idea – even if the idea comes from someone within their own company.

This has been written about by many, with years of recommendations about “skunk works,” secret teams…  But it is just further proof that we get so very , very set in our ways.

It reminds me of the story of the invention of the battery powered watch.  I listen to it from the “Paradigm Shift” guy, Joel Barker, every semester, on his video The Business of Paradigms.  He tells how a man in a Swiss watch company invented this new fangled watch, and then showed it to the folks in his company.  “That can’t be a watch – it doesn’t have a mainspring,” went the refrain.  Well, the rest of the world saw it at some international watch convention, Seiko ran with it, and the Swiss lost their dominance in the blink of an eye.

Yes, there are a lot of bad new ideas out there.  And, I assume that someone at Nokia said “this is a bad idea” with that new fangled phone.  What we know is that they did not develop the idea.  But others did.

And the rest, as they say, is history.