Innovators, imitators and idiots

Nice little thought from Warren Buffet, quoted in a good piece on Harvard Business about Why smart people do dumb things:

[Charlie] Rose asked the question that scholars, pundits, and plaintiffs attorneys will be debating for years: “Should wise people have known better?” Of course they should have, Buffet replied, but there’s a “natural progression” to how good new ideas go badly wrong. He called this progression the “three Is.”

First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don’t and champion new ideas that create genuine value. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. Sometimes they improve on the original idea, often they tarnish it. Last come the idiots, whose avarice undermines the very innovations they are trying to exploit.

14 Responses to “Innovators, imitators and idiots”

  1. Drew K

    HBR says:

    Which raises the biggest question of them all: Why do so many smart people keep doing so many dumb things?

    I’ve got a better question: Why do we keep calling these people smart if they keep doing such dumb things?

  2. Mike

    Some of us can’t even come up with a good blog response without looking to see what everyone else is saying.

  3. Theo

    LOL, it really felt very pleasant to read this article!

  4. frizztext

    Innovators, imitators and idiots – these three i-words are not only describing the experiences we have in the world wide web daily, it also describes the politics, the arts – it describes the whole mankind. So at least we should try not to be one of the last mentioned …

  5. ElizOF

    Alas, the world is made up of people who possess one or more of the “three is” and, I dare say, we all get to exhibit each of those qualities at least once in our lifetimes. I love Mr Buffett’s directness… :-)

  6. Joe McCarthy

    I’m reminded of Andrew Carnegie’s quote: “The first generation builds the business, the second makes it a success, and the third wrecks it”.

  7. Riley Harrison

    It often seems that the innovators have the brilliance and the curiosity to create something original and the imitators appreciate the genius, see the potential and have the marketing skills to capitalize on the innovator’s creativity.

    1. Luis

      And with that, who do you would recognize more merit ? Both deserve it, but whom of them deserves it more ?



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