Home > Unlearning > Invention is Free of Models…Innovation? That depends.

Invention is Free of Models…Innovation? That depends.

My 90-year-old Nana (Paternal Grandmother) is an inventor and her inventions work.

For example, one of my Nana’s inventions is a color-coded flagging system for dog doo-doo left in her front yard by neighbors who don’t clean up their pet’s mess.  The system is simple.  If it is a fresh dog dropping the marker (A tomato stake and colored plastic bag.) is yellow which warns people not to step there lest they need to clean their shoe of said droppings.

As the dropping starts to “mature” (Or get dried out and easier to pick up.), my Nana replaces the yellow flag with an orange one to inform her which ones are ready to pick up that week.  These flags, in concert with a systematic lawn-checking walking pattern done on a weekly basis, keeps shoes clean and dog doo-doo marked for elimination.

Did I mention each flag has “Doo-Doo” written on the plastic in blue Sharpie?

The invention of this system is made real by the operations of the mind of my Nana.  This process of invention is  inherently “Model Free”, meaning that my Nana did not need to know differential equations or string theory to make her idea manifest.  What’s “Model Free” mean anyway?

“Model Free” means you do not need a PhD or to know the hard sciences like Physics to solve a problem.  You just observe the problem and a solution comes to you.

Many in the fields of Economics, Neurology, and Computer Science have been trying to come up with ways to solve complex problems using descriptive models.  However, nothing seems to work as well as good ole fashion gray matter.  If you wonder why this is, don’t think it is because these complex problems cannot be solved.  We just need to change our perspective to understand the operations of the “Model Free” so we might expand our tool sets to encompass the methods of Creation, Natural Construction, Emergence, and Complexity. Innovation also falls in this category…To a point.

So is innovation “Model Free”?

Since innovation encompasses ideas and inventions applied successfully in practice, I have to say not so much.  Innovation can be “Model Free” if it is implemented in a Model Free environment, but innovation quickly becomes subject to the introduction of models when the innovation is tied to a corporate agenda or to the scientific method.  Using the example of my Nana, she successfully implemented a working invention which made her life much easier.  “Model Free” innovation can quickly become “Model Rich” innovation as soon as someone says:

PROVE IT!  Tell me how this makes life easier!  (Or how it saves/makes me money…)

In the case of business or science, this means MEASUREMENT.  So, I’m expanding the definition of  “Model Free”  to include the absence of measurement.  As soon as an innovation starts including aspects of measurement, it ceases to be completely “Model Free”.  Can you see the guys in the white lab coats and the consulting khakis approaching a 90 year old woman and attempting to get her to prove the “value proposition” associated with her design?  Ridiculous, but measurement in its ivory tower has overwhelmed natural processes of creation and has brought us to the extreme brink.

When did we start believing measurement and models are the the source of invention and innovation, not the other way around?

It is a great confusion, imho.

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