THE BLOG
01/10/2015 13:39 BST | Updated 01/10/2016 06:12 BST

Innovation; Nature or Nurture?

Nature vs nurture is a most basic of questions about us, our behaviours, management style, our reaction, our attitude and our parenting. However this post is not for or against either side, neither is it a sit on the fence but rather an observation about the specific skill of iteration.

My scars come from over 25 years in startup land with the past 12 years in acceleration, incubation and funding both for software and product companies but all with a technology led solution.

The struggle I have is that we [royal] assume that one side of nature or nurture is somehow more stable and constant than the other side. Some argue that nature changes little over one generation and is therefore offers stability to measure from, others that nurture is the more stable. No one denies small incremental changes but these are about improvements and overall stability means that you can measure differences of the other force and determine if nature or nurture is the more influential force in determining outcomes.

However both are so unstable that the debate is probably futile, indeed truly innovative concepts comes from the instability created when there is a shift in both the tectonic plates of nature and nurture, matched with market need and someone with the ability to deliver.

Nature creates differences in people from fingerprints, to brain structure and hormone levels. The variety in humans today is only limited by the current population. Some are subtle and some are significant. Identical twins may share many characteristics but ultimately think differently, even conjoined twins can have widely different outlooks. The only safe assumption is that nature is not stable and comparisons between groups can be biased.

Nurture creates differences in people from attitudes, behaviour and values. The variety in humans today is only limited by the attitudes of our citizens and maybe the ability to have free speech. Some differences are subtle and some are significant. Identical twins may share many characteristics but ultimately think differently, even conjoined twins can have widely different outlooks. The only safe assumption is that nurture is not stable and comparisons between groups can be biased.

The point for me is that innovation is not about who you are or where you come from but an individual's preparedness to do something about it. The variety of people and backgrounds I have met has lead me to believe that there is no monopoly on good ideas, skills or ability to create something, but some are prepared to do anything about it. Some will call this luck, but you have to put yourself in the way of luck. The most significant difference I have observed in this prepared group is that some stick rigidly to one idea, one approach and hold on to one view whilst others move on, they iterate, change, test, morph and pivot. Now if this skill of iteration/change/ adoption is nature or nurture I don't care but without it the chances of business and commercial success fall to virtually zero.

My number one test is not if this is a good idea but if the person is prepared to go on a journey and discover a market lead solution to the problem that others want solved.