I remember when I first discovered email. It was overwhelming and astonishing to have at ones disposal a service that is better than mail and FOR FREE. Of course now this is not amazing at all and everyone takes email for granted. But how did you feel when you first heard about iPhone, Facebook, or Google glass? These and other innovations at some point in time seemed like the substance of fiction and yet today we all take them for granted. This phenomenon leads us to ask the question how does someone or some group come with something that no one has seen before bring it to life and then become part of the background? How do innovators think?

There is a significant amount of literature pertaining to personality traits and motivations of innovators, but I wanted to shed the light on a peculiar aspect of the innovator’s mindset. It is important to note at this stage that this is an opinion piece and not a piece of research therefore totally based on my own observations.

An innovator lives in a place right on the border between fiction and reality a place that I would like to call “relatively fictional” where one could gaze and wonder into the world of fiction and fantasy but without losing touch with reality. Perhaps this sense of not fully belonging to the world of reality provides them with the opportunity to notice stuff that otherwise seem not worthy of ones attention and then they’d feel an urge to know more about what they have noticed which in many instances leads to nowhere but sometimes, although few,this sense of inquisitiveness leads to something big. The small population of this narrow strip between the two worlds has been the supplier of, as Steve jobs puts it, “the crazy ones who would change the world”.

This is an account of what it is like to live there with a focus on three aspects that are associated with these people:

  • Nicola Tesla, known for his design of the modern alternating current, had no choice in doing what he did, he became obsessed with serving the most powerful tyrant that ever lived, not Mr. Morgan, but the thought that his solution is very possible or rather certain.
  • simple (for a person studying quantum physics)
  • loses suction power. The typical response that we got was “if the solution were that simple someone would have came up with it a long time ago”. Because of “the tyranny of possibility” Mr. Dyson persisted and eventually created an empire based on” finding solutions to problems that everyone seems to ignore”.  This genre of stories is very common among painters, inventors, architects, scientists and Mother Teresa. The lucky few had someone to believe in them but one has to wonder about the number of people we have dismissed without benefiting from their genius.

Relatively fictional is a nice place to live in, but it comes at a high price, perhaps if we manage to lower that price a bit we may see a significant growth in that population.