Potential: Revealed

Strategic Thinking, Innovative Ideas, Growth Marketing, and Revealing of Potential

Working Together: Great Potential Revealed

Spring and summer have been busy work-wise, and lazy otherwise. The combination of hard work and the opportunity, through abundance of summery weather and a relaxing time away with family, to do nothing much has also given me time to read some interesting books.

Recently I’ve gotten hooked on science and history – in particular the rise in the early 20th century of quantum mechanics in physics. I have been amazed at how individually brilliant these scientists were and how incredible their vision and discoveries were. Imagining and then doing the math and experiments to prove what they imagined, in a time with no computers, little funding, and few sophisticated laboratory tools is the epitome of the human spirit and thirst for knowledge and understanding.

What I’ve also learned that was true and critical to the discoveries made was the collaboration and sharing that occurred. There were plenty of rivalries and some conflicts but given the stakes – and the potential for fame – there was more openness than secrecy. These remarkable men and women – Einstein, Curie, Fermi, Szilard, Meitner, Oppenheimer, Dirac and many others – were of varying nationalities and located across Europe, plus America and Asia. Again in a time of no computers or internet, they made a conscious investment – which was non-trivial given the communication challenges of the age – in publishing their discoveries, writing to each other regularly, and attending formal and informal gatherings where theories, approaches and findings were presented and debated.

They seemed to know that their ideas were worth far less if they hid them. They knew they’d be more valuable if they invited others to learn about them, debate or challenge them and add to them. Or perhaps that their individual ideas and theories were just small parts of a huge body of unknowns that one of them could not possibly explain alone. If they wanted to be successful – be part of explaining the universe – they had to cooperate with others.

Together they were discovering more deeply how the universe works, at the atomic and then sub atomic levels. Imagining and then proving that atoms existed and contained electrons, protons and neutrons. Imagining and then proving that even smaller things existed such as quarks, gluons and other interestingly-named particles. Imagining and then proving that atoms could be split – and fused. Some, such as Einstein, at times wished they’d never had their great thoughts or published them — since it led in 1945 to the deaths of more than 100,000 Japanese citizens in a matter of seconds with dropping of bombs. Bombs with innocent sounding names like Fat Boy and Little Man.

Yet there is no denying that there have been many positive aspects to what these people discovered and helped the world to understand. It has and continues to change the world as we know it.

And their approach to innovation and knowledge sharing can teach us a great deal about what can happen when the potential of new ideas is fueled by a spirit of cooperation and sharing for the common good.

If you are interested at all in what I’ve been reading, here’s a few selected titles:

The Story of Science: Einstein Adds A New Dimension by Joy Hakim – actually a great middle school to early high school text book. If all children had books written by and teachers like Joy Hakim, we’d have more kids interested in science. Her writing is fun and informative.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson 

A Short History of Almost Everything by Bill Bryson


  marketingagent99 wrote @

R: been busy myself – hot here too! Glad to see a new post and enjoyed it.

I read something once about Einstein that while he was remarkably famous, easily the best know scientist of the past several hundred years, he saw himself as just a part of a larger orchestra of scientists, researchers and dreamers who were trying to figure out how the universe works. Most of us aren’t the most famous person in the past several hundred seconds, let alone several centuries! I agree with your conjecture that what made him influential was his collaborative nature, the interest and thirst to learn with and from others.

Good lessons for all of us that hope to just get something reasonably important done every day.


  adamgrizzly wrote @

99: we’ve commented back and forth on this general view before. As the product innovator I struggle with whether collaboration is good in and of itself. Should I favor it over breakthrough thinking and differentiating my company’s offerings? They don’t need to be trade-offs but in my experience they are. In an established company where the status quo is hard to overcome really innovative ideas scare people, IMO. They shake peopel’s confidence in their own role and whether innovation will render them less useful or leave them behind. Hard to get them to collaborate in these cases. Einstein was lucky that he was collaborating with very, very smart people all the time. Real life companies are not populated with these people.

I’m not giving up just talking about life as I see it at least.


  Randy wrote @

Perhaps most interesting about Mr. Albert was that he was NEVER satisfied with what he had discovered. It didn’t explain “everything” which is what he hoped to find and inspire others to find with him. He was an unusual scientist — overtly personable which made him a force, along with his intellect.

Thanks for the comment 99.

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