Nov 03

The 5 stages of innovation


  • You deny that the new innovation is worthwhile.
  • You say things like ‘That will never scale’ or ‘That was done back in the 80s and no one used it’
  • Whenever anyone mentions the new innovation, you present a laundry list of reasons why it won’t work.


  • You actively unsubscribe from blogs who rave about the new innovation
  • You snort with derision and roll your eyes when you see the innovation on a resume
  • You engage in flame wars with advocates of the innovation
  • The phrase “propeller head” appears in your writing, as does the phrase “Blah, blah, blah, I am so sick of hearing about ___”


  • You look for ways to justify your disinterest, in the face of clear market interest in the innovation
  • You say things like ‘Yes, but without support for XYZ, it’s dead in the water.’
  • You’ll buy books that include the new innovation, but only as long as they also include something else you’re really fond of. For example:
    • Agile Development and XML – the forgotten connection
      • or
    • Monads and Method Invocations – How Haskell is just like Introspection
  • At conferences, you’ll visit the session about the new innovation, but you’ll leave early.


  • You start to feel tired, because the world is changing around you
  • You say things like “I’m too old for this shit.”
  • You feel stupid, because the new innovation just doesn’t quite seem to make sense


  • Finally, you realize that everyone’s figuring out the new innovation, and it’s all a big mess.
  • You read blogs or news articles and you say things like “Wow, they don’t know what to do with it either!”
  • If you’re entrepreneurially inclined, you start to think about how you could build a startup around the innovation and retire early and rich.

For most innovations, many people will never move past anger.

(Compare and contrast with The 5 stages of fanboi-ism)

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