Last week, I made my final post on Connecting the Dots (CTD) 1.0 and have migrated to this forum, which I affectionately refer to as CTD 2.0. There is no doubt I will have the need to make incremental tweaks to the site. So many, in fact, that I will exhaust the 2.x series before a truly meaningful improvement is realized when I inevitably grow into CTD 3.0. This transition period has given me reason to reflect on the difference between the meaning of the descriptors new, improved, and new and improved. I believe the forum that I am calling CTD 2.0 is improved, but it is by no means new. It is not new because it existed before, albeit in a different format and on a different domain. It is improved because it is a more useful format that offers additional features, and allows me to share more (and sharing is what this is all about). As I reflect on the most significant contributions made by the teams of which I was a part over the years, none of the ideas were really new, but all were improved. The ideas I share in this forum are not new, but I like to think all are improved variants of messages others may have had. As I sit here watching football and listening to music, neither the game being played nor the music transmitted via Spotify is new, and though I believe both to be improved when compared to their counterparts of yesteryear, not everyone would draw the same conclusion.
Many marketers like to claim that the products they represent are new and improved; many leaders like to think that the ideas that they are championing are new and improved; and our Presidential Candidates are both touting how their plans are new and improved. In each case, this is misrepresentation. None of the products, ideas, or plans are new and improved. In fact, they are likely one or none of those attributes, but they most certainly are not both.
“New” Coke, Microsoft’s Vista, Apple’s Newton, and the United States Football League are each examples of things that were touted as new, but were clearly not improved. At the same time, Amazon, Apple’s iPod, and Harry Potter Books, were arguably not new depending on your anchor point (i.e. Amazon as an improved bookstore, iPod as an improved Walkman, etc), but they most certainly were an improvement upon each of their predecessors.
Truth is, we don’t necessarily want new, but we all value improved. I believe that very few ideas are new and most of the ideas that are pretending to be new are merely attempting to serve as improved variations of their predecessors. I use the word “merely” not to take anything away from the ideas, but as an acknowledgement that new is inconsequential. Improved is what matters!
I don’t care to bring anything new to those with whom I serve, but I care a great deal about helping to improve just about everything in our path. Think about the contributions of which you are most proud. Are any of them truly new? I didn’t think so. Did you leave a legacy that improved upon the situation you inherited? I hope so. My point is we need not strive to bring anything new to the world (Note: new to us is a completely different story, as new to us is a requirement for personal growth), but we should embrace improved as our personal mandate. I don’t aspire to create anything new, but I am committed to improving as much as I can before I see it in my wake.
Improve upon the old; Improve upon the present; But, let’s not chase new for newness sake…