Paradox Pair #22: Novel & Common
What was once groundbreaking becomes familiar, that which was newfangled transforms into a standard.
It’s easy to forget that what is commonplace today was yesterday’s breakthrough. Time and prevalence diminish past marvels and relegate them to the ordinary. What was once groundbreaking becomes familiar, that which was newfangled transforms into a standard. When something becomes well known and customary it provides comfort — comfort leads to acceptance, allaying the doubts that an untested solution may cause. We know what we are going to get because others have done this before us. We adopt standards because they provide stability, a tried-and-true foundation, with expected results and performance. Only by leveraging the foundation of the common do we begin to create a space for exploration, an environment that encourages bold ideas, and feedback loops to measure outcomes.
Original, effective ideas don't just pop, fully formed, into our minds; the thought process has to start somewhere, and is usually sparked by someone else's thinking -Mark Earls
Now when we try something new, we can be focused on a small number of changes. Within our space, we have narrowed the scope, improving the chances that our efforts will be successful. Even with failed attempts, we can quickly reset to our baseline to try another iteration. When a breakthrough occurs, our modern solution can be regression tested and we can more easily validate our results. By leveraging the ordinary — what were the past’s pioneering advancements — new invention can take hold. Of course, what is novel to us today will be commonplace for the future us, leading to a new round of invention and discovery.