A healthy disregard for the Impossible!

The title is a quote attributed to Larry Page, it is also the core of a curious thinking soul. Early most of us are taught that Impossible is a permeate state. How can things be thought of as impossible and later become real?

There are actually three levels of Impossible

1. Perceived as Impossible – these are the things we want to do but can’t become real today because one or more elements are missing, a platform or core technical element is not invented.

2. Impossible, would require new core element – as core element I am talking about creating a new element, in the Ironman move Tony Starks dad build a power reactor but could not create the element with tools of his time so he left a message for his son on what the element would look like so it could be made in the future

3. Impossible by laws of Physics – to work it would take a change in the laws of physics as we understand them

Life imitates art, future vision is often found in art, and Innovators are often SIFI enthusiasts. We see the Jetsons with a family robot, coming soon! We see a pocket communicator on Start Trek and we have the flip phone. Star Trek gave us the vision of taking to an omnipresent computer, actually possible today, it gave us the replicator and today we have 3D printers, it gave us doors that make that swoosh sound, I ask someone to get on that, it was cool.

So what is impossible?
Great innovation happens in stages. We all get excited when what may have been launched in stages over the years and failed finally makes it, but often the change happens over time and in stages.

We hear references to the US effort to put a man on the moon as a great achievement. So great that it spawned the term moonshot in today’s innovation vernacular. The term for most refers to a single event, the truth is that centuries of rocket technology, decades of guidance systems, decades of space science led to the first satellites which led to sending a monkey into space and back then a man.

On the road there were many failures including the loss of life in a Launchpad explosion. The original moonshot was a higher risk venture than any of us would dream to take. When setting innovation or product goals it is best to break them down to stages and think what other industries will need to be created, infrastructure installed. Rare is the innovation that is a single effort even by one multi-divisional company.

Work over time in collaboration is half the story, the other half is cultural, getting people to embrace each step even if they are unaware that the product they are using is one frame in a bigger picture. The impossible may not be impossible for ever.

Tim Bates