The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” encapsulates a paradox built into our pursuit of progress. Often it is more challenging to improve something that already works than to fix what is broken.
This paradox underscores the necessity of starting anew, from a clean slate, to foster true innovation. Let’s highlight the difficulty of improving functional systems and the necessity of starting over for innovative breakthroughs.
Thank goodness typewriters weren’t better
Consider the evolution of the typewriter into computers. At first, improving typewriters meant refining the keys, improving ribbon efficiency, or improving typing speed. But to revolutionize the writing experience, the leap to computers was absolutely necessary.
We never completely got rid of smudges, mechanical hassles and messes. Improving typewriters reached their peak but innovation required a radical departure, leading to the birth of a transformative technology that reshaped communication and productivity.
How wonderful that so much doesn’t work very well
Likewise, the shift from traditional taxis to ride-sharing services exemplifies this paradox. Improving taxis involved minor changes – better dispatch systems or more comfortable interiors. Yet an innovative breakthrough came from rethinking and introducing a platform that redefined transportation, creating a new industry entirely.
Good thing we don’t learn enough in school
The paradox extends beyond products and encompasses systems and methods. In the field of education, attempts to improve traditional classroom structures often face limitations due to entrenched methods and systems. Innovators therefore embrace starting over by founding alternative educational models such as Montessori or online educational platforms that reach even those without access to teachers, thereby challenging conventional paradigms for improved learning outcomes.
Great that there is spaghetti code
Additionally, in software development, improving existing code bases loaded with legacy structures and complexities can impede progress. It is often more efficient to start from scratch, enabling developers to create streamlined, efficient and adaptable systems, as seen in the evolution from monolithic software to microservices architecture.
Realize what we have improved for a long time and think completely new
The crux lies in recognizing that the pursuit of improvement within existing frameworks may yield marginal gains, but true innovation requires radical rethinking and starting over. Starting fresh gives you the freedom to challenge norms, explore uncharted territories, and conceptualize solutions unhindered by the constraints of established structures.
However, this does not diminish the value of incremental improvements; they maintain functionality and optimize current systems. Yet, to truly take a step forward, innovation often requires the audacity to throw away the familiar and venture into the unknown.
In summary, the paradox of improvement underscores that while tinkering with what works may yield small improvements, true fashion innovation will break away from the status quo.
When we get annoyed when things don’t work, whether it’s products, collaborations, or even political systems, we should see it as an opportunity to question and start over to create transformative changes that shape the future. It is this bold step into the unexplored that propels society toward unprecedented progress and paradigm shifts.