There is something sneaky in the process of discovery and implementation—something people usually call evolution. We are managed by small (or large) accidental changes, more accidental than we admit. We talk big but hardly have any imagination, except for a few visionaries who seem to recognize the optionality of things. We need some randomness to help us out—with a double dose of antifragility. For randomness plays a role at two levels: the invention and the implementation. The first point is not overly surprising, though we play down the role of chance, especially when it comes to our own discoveries.
But it took me a lifetime to figure out the second point: implementation does not necessarily proceed from invention. It, too, requires luck and circumstances. The history of medicine is littered with the strange sequence of discovery of a cure followed, much later, by the implementation—as if the two were completely separate ventures, the second harder, much harder, than the first. Just taking something to market requires struggling against a collection of naysayers, administrators, empty suits, formalists, mountains of details that invite you to drown, and one’s own discouraged mood on occasion. In other words, to identify the option (again, there is this option blindness). This is where all you need is the wisdom to realize what you have on your hands.
The Half-Invented. For there is a category of things that we can call half-invented, and taking the half-invented into the invented is often the real breakthrough. Sometimes you need a visionary to figure out what to do with a discovery, a vision that he and only he can have. For instance, take the computer mouse, or what is called the graphical interface: it took Steve Jobs to put it on your desk, then laptop—only he had a vision of the dialectic between images and humans—later adding sounds to a trilectic. The things, as they say, that are “staring at us.”
...the simpler and more obvious the discovery, the less equipped we are to figure it out by complicated methods. The key is that the significant can only be revealed through practice. How many of these simple, trivially simple heuristics are currently looking and laughing at us?