The Idea Economy is different. It is the successor to the Knowledge Economy, not an updated version. We are moving from relentless analysis of the past and drilling down into the present to focus on the future and how to shape it.
As Mark Earls said, ‘The future is a place that doesn’t exist yet. And yet we cling to the impression that by gathering the right numbers together in the right way, we can predict how things will be. We don’t need any of that dangerous creativity because we will one day know everything. One day’.
Earls also wisely said, ‘you don’t have to get it all right now’. In other words ideas aren’t disqualified by minor flaws. It is just as well. Even the cleverest, most lauded innovators and thinkers make errors, and we don’t think ill of them. As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘to err is human, to forgive divine’.
Columbus sought to discover ‘The Indies’ by sailing westwards, when he could have reached India and China more quickly by going in the opposite direction. But America was a great discovery in its own right, and Columbus was forgiven.
In his remarkable compendium A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson pointed out that Einstein made an extraordinary error in his General Theory of Relativity. He postulated something called ‘the cosmological constant’, which Bryson described as a ‘kind of mathematical pause button’, to counterbalance the effect of gravity. There was no scientific basis for it. He was, quite simply, wrong. But he wasn’t wrong about E=mc², and that’s what underpins his reputation.