Forget innovation. It’s replication that really matters.

Cloning has been an issue near and dear to our hearts, specifically the difference between simply copying someone’s idea and making it better. Over at the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Daniel Ben-Horin frets over what he calls “innovation obession disorder” — that we are too focused on the novel and not the slightly different:

Replication is tough in a different way. It demands a close analogy of conditions so that the small-scale processes that worked in, say, Kenya, can be reproduced in, say, Sao Paulo. And that close analogy is really hard to find. Small differences on the human level can easily undercut a replication attempt.

But more important than honing in on replication vs. scaling is establishing a new consensus that propagation is as important as innovation. Craig gets at this difference between innovation and propagation by asking, “Why should inventing new things be a priority over just making existing solutions work in new places?”

In game design, it’s called iteration — the idea that you find a core idea and then chip away at, smoothing away the edges. But Ben-Horin’s argument is more cultural than practical — we don’t value the minute differences and are obsessed with “first” rather than “best.”

[via SSIR]