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Building anything amazing is chemistry

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Jan 17, 2013
Johannes Gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg

Creativity is an act of remix. Creating something, anything amazing needs to establish connection among things that are apparently unrelated. The process is simple: find distant connection among things that could not be related at first place. The art of creating something magnificent largely rely on combinatorial capability. The people, the process, the distant facts, the unsolved problems, the critical & ambiguous ideas, the weird connections are blended together to find a new combination to build something amazing.

At Future StartUp we believe that making combination among things that could not be connected with apparent understanding is what makes a chance to experience something amazing. Creating successful and beautiful ventures is a combinatorial process. It is a process of finding & establishing connection among things that are not important at all, but important. It depends on creating a culture that inspires connection, communication and understanding among apparently unrelated fields.

The opportunity to find and make combination has increased in many fold. One can, now, choose from a large pool of technological host to create and establish combination to solve various types of problems. Subsequently, entrepreneurship, as a means of solving problems, becomes a more attractive and viable alternative.

The importance of having great ideas is a prerequisite for starting-up. However, the act of getting quality ideas, that don't suck, is a real challenge for all of us. As human mind as unstable it is, our focus is always on run. But, the power of mind lies in its very dysfunctional nature-the inability to be stable. Our mind, if given chance with, is a reckless explorer. The nature of its exploration does not comply any grammar which ultimately makes it more powerful not less. Although our modern society is dying for focus but we have to accept that focus does not create anything that scares us. The capability of mind that enables it to collect, observe and store, if not for all, all the things that it comes to contact is in the heart of finding great ideas.

Ideas come from every where. They come from all our encounters and connections, and experiences.

Printing press
Printing press

In business ability to connect things together helps you to reap greater advantage in need. The combination of ideas, place and human creates the ultimate profitability of a venture. We can find the usefulness of combinatorial ability in business from the story of first printing press and Johannes Gutenberg who invented printing press during the Holy Roman Empire.

In his wonderful book The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date, Samuel Arbesman-an applied mathematician and network scientist explains how Gutenberg’s printing press utilized the power of combinatorial creativity. Samuel says:

It turns out that the printing press is far from simple. The technological innovations that Gutenberg developed were much more than the modification of a wine press and the addition of the idea of movable type. Gutenberg combined and extended a whole host of technologies and innovations from an astonishing number of areas, and that is what made his work so powerful. He used metallurgical developments to create metal type that not only had a consistent look (Gutenberg insisted on this), but type that could be easily cast, allowing whole pages to be printed simply at once. He used chemical innovations to create a better ink than had ever been used before in printing. Gutenberg even exploited the concept of the division of labor by employing a large team of workers, many of whom were illiterate, to churn out books at a rate never before seen in history. And he even employed elegant error-checking mechanisms to ensure that the type was always set properly: There was a straight line on one side of each piece of type so that the workers could see at a glance whether any letters had been set upside down.

Only by having the combined knowledge of all of these technologies does the printing press become possible and cost-effective.


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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