Innovation is all the rage. It will drive our economy, solve our problems, ease the burdens of everyday life, and make America great again. The past is forgotten and the present is taken for granted, but the the future will be bright thanks to Innovation.
The great ideas that comprise Innovation seem to arise from unexpected places and strange combinations. Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance polymath, had both the restless mind of a scientist and the trained eye of an artist. He spent countless hours studying the muscles of the human body and filled volumes with his detailed anatomical sketches. His obsession with the muscles of the face informed the most famous smile ever painted. Although few of his many brilliant engineering projects were ever completed, he at least rendered them in beautiful drawings worthy of framing. History is not clear on the subject, but it is easy to imagine that the restless, creative mind of Leonardo was annoyed by the mundane details of building and testing his devices.
Many centuries before Leonardo, another Italian luminary by the name of Archimedes was annoyed that his bathtub always overflowed onto the floor when he climbed in. As legend has it, he was the first to give any serious thought to why that might be. Rather than just start with less water and be done with it, he began thinking about how this annoyance could be used to measure the volume of any irregular object. In retrospect, this was a brilliant Innovation. The fact that he ran through the streets naked and dripping wet proclaiming his great idea was not so brilliant, and undoubtedly annoyed his neighbors.