Regressive Culture and the Decimal Improvement

Most businesses operate and finance on a perpetual study of what has been profitable before. Makes sense, doesn’t it? “This product worked well for us, so let’s keep producing it and continue to make money from it.” Risks, if ever taken, are informed by thorough analysis of previous ventures. The result? Only marginal improvements to products and a gruelingly slow roll-out of human progress. Version 1.1 instead of version 2.0, because any business person knows that they can milk extra money out of every marginal improvement between 1.0 and 2.0.

Sure, this practice is brilliant for driving revenue and safely building businesses. But it’s regressive for human progress. It involves a constant study and reincorporation of what has already been done rather than what has never been done before. It promotes recycling culture, recycling ideas, and holding human potential back. Hollywood has become notorious for this.

We’re stuck on old models, old cash cows, and the golden hens of yore. Our world could “go green” if gas and vehicle companies stop preventing that progress in an effort to perpetuate profits. Our world could connect with other worlds if financiers see space exploration as more than an “investment.” Our world could cure disease indefinitely if pharmaceutical companies surrender their lust for the daily medication business. Our world could do so much more if money wasn’t tugging at our reins. We could do so much more together.

The few making blind leaps of faith are independent entrepreneurs and inventors, working out of their garage after hours to compete for the next big thing. These heroes of our future are pushing buttons few large players dare push. Inventors have played an instrumental role in American history and will continue to define our future. Strapped for cash and time, these men and women really need support to push their visions forward. Unfortunately, they often look to the worst place possible for help: big companies. Why the worst place? The big boys swoop in to buy and ingest the little guys, taking control of the invention and platforming incremental versions to maximize market potential. We fall back where we started.

The entrepreneurs of today are trained (mostly by business leaders, mind you) to have an “exit strategy” – sell your company, publicly or to a larger company. We have been trained to give up our ideas and business in exchange for cash. We have been taught to sell away the future we are building for mankind. Many companies today have become dependent on acquiring small players and have completely disbanded their research & development departments altogether. These companies don’t even bother developing incremental improvements while they wait for the next great purchase. In the good old days, big companies had all the resources AND the best talent to produce great product. Now, the best talent invents on the outside and struggles for capital while companies stockpile all of the resources necessary to produce meaningful change. Herein lies a tragic disconnect that also stunts our progress forward.

Thankfully, the world of financial support is changing. Initiatives like Kickstarter connect projects with needed capital. True change can happen if we stand together and support each other. Vote with your purchases, donations, and investments. Set profit and politics aside. Build a better world. Our children depend on it.