Innovation Myths and the Unsexy Truths About Breakthroughs

By Mark Milian - 2014-04-01T16:15:07Z

Photograph by Marko Priske/laif via Redux

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Reinvent the Wheel

Hartmut Esslinger was one of the largely unseen magicians behind Steve Jobs during Apple's early rise. Esslinger founded the design consultancy Frog, which helped create the first Macintosh computer.

People think true innovation comes from reinvention, Esslinger says. But at Apple and in many of his other projects, it's not the size of the change that counts, but rather the size of the impact on users. The Macintosh wasn't the first personal computer, but the software innovations — and smiling interface — are what made this machine a much friendlier technology.

"Real innovation means to make something new — which doesn't mean you have to invent everything new — but at least the effect on people must be new," Esslinger says. "It must be better. It must achieve more with less."

Related: Google Experiments With Changing Users' Risky Behavior