Innovation: knowledge is a barrier

August 18, 2015

Well said by Einstein,


Imagination is more important than knowledge.


And we observe it around us all the times. Countless individuals and companies are pushing hard to innovate to maximize their worth and to better serve their customers. It is well understood why they wish to innovate but the question is,


Why don’t many of them succeed?


I would like to share two interesting examples to present my point of view and I would leave it with you to look at them in your context.

Samuel Pierpont Langley (astronomer, physicist and inventor), was a Professor of Astronomy and the third Secretory of the Smithsonian Institution. An exceptionally knowledgeable person, he managed to secure a $70,000 grant in 1896. He hired Charles M. Manly (engineer and test pilot) to develop a piloted airplane called “Aerodrome”. Professor Langley, however, gave up the project after two crashes on take-off in 1903.



The Wright brothers (Orville and Wilbur), with 4 years of high school education and with a background in bicycle manufacturing, were passionate about making a flying machine. They are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.



These people were highly passionate about same idea, but there was a difference between them. The Wright brothers had no formal education, expert assistance or resources to chase their dream while Professor Langley was a respected researcher in the related fields of science and had access to the best of the resources available that time to execute his vision.


Expert knowledge in a field should be a stepping stone for a person to chase their passion. These classic examples suggests that one’s expert level of knowledge in a field often restrains one’s flight of imagination, no matter the amount of money and expert assistance at the person’s disposal.



Well said by Einstein,


I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.


Leveraging our knowledge, education and resources to make a dream come true surely requires passion, but it is often difficult to escape from the invisible cage of our focused knowledge. This can prevent us from challenging the status-quo by banking on our innovative thinking to achieve our dreams.


About the author

Mohammad is curious and always excited to solve problems, he is just curious.

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