Innovation Acts Like a Sprint But Requires a Marathon Mentality

Todd Hudgens

Innovation happens quickly, but it takes a long time to understand. This concept has been brought to light recently with the declaration of the supposed demise of the Metaverse. Headlines are quick to declare absolutes, but we need to take a step back and consider the bigger picture.

We often live our lives in a sprint mindset, seeking instant gratification and quick results. However, this can be detrimental to innovation. Innovation requires patience, time, and understanding. It is like running a marathon - a series of chapters strategically laid out to achieve a long-term goal. There may be factors that require adjustments along the way, but the focus remains on crossing the finish line.

It is important to consider that innovation and new tools are not absolutes. They are race day factors to consider when providing inspiration and utility to customers. It is essential to focus on the long-term goal and navigate innovation accordingly.

The QR code is an excellent example of this concept. It was declared dead due to low usage rates, but in reality, our behavior as consumers and shoppers needed to catch up. It took time for QR codes to become a seamless part of our daily lives, and now they are a necessary tool. 

Similarly, the Metaverse may not be dead, but it may be ahead of its time. Facebook and Walmart may have failed to define it, but that does not mean it cannot be successful in the future. When seamless adoption, activation, and utility are met, innovation flourishes.

This is where a great agency can be your partner. Innovation requires a long-term approach to mitigate the pitfalls of expecting quick results. A foundation built upon diverse disciplines, thought leaders, and skill sets will provide the best environment for an experimentation mindset. If you are innovating correctly, you should fail often and learn from those mistakes, taking an iterative approach to getting better. 

A few examples of long-term ‘marathon’ innovation that impact our lives:

  • Apple iPhone: Apple invested years of research and development in creating a device that combined a touchscreen interface, internet connectivity, and a range of innovative features. Starting from the initial release in 2007, Apple continued to iterate and improve the iPhone over multiple generations, introducing new technologies, enhancing user experience, and expanding the capabilities of the device. This marathon approach paid off, as the iPhone became the game-changer in the industry and transformed the way we communicate, access information, and use mobile technology.
  • Human Genome Project: This international scientific research effort spanned over a decade from 1990 to 2003. Its goal was to sequence and map the entire human genome, which was a monumental task. The project involved thousands of scientists and required significant advancements in sequencing technologies, computational analysis, and collaboration. The ‘marathon’ approach of this project led to groundbreaking discoveries, such as the identification of gene locations linked to diseases. The knowledge gained from the project is fueling innovation in personalized medicine, genetic research, and biotechnology.

We need to have patience and take a marathon approach to innovation. We should not declare absolutes based on short-term trends or results. Instead, we need to focus on the long-term goal and navigate innovation accordingly. In doing so, we can create a better future for ourselves and the world. Our willingness to overcome challenges and setbacks will lead to discoveries we never could have imagined.