In a recent road trip to Monterey and Carmel, California, just an iPad's Frisbee toss from Palo Alto, driving through the once-upon-a-startup companies that lined the highways of Silicon Valley brought to mind a passage from John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday as I brunched in the shadow of Yahoo across the street, at the IHOP at the Avatar Hotel in Santa Clara:
"The flame of conception seems to flare and go out, leaving man shaken, and at once happy and unafraid. There's plenty of precedent of course. Everyone knows about Newton's apple. Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species flashed complete in one second, and he spent the rest of his life backing it up; and the theory of relativity occurred to Einstein in the time it takes to clap your hands. This is the gratest mystery of the human mind--the inductive leap. Everything falls into place, irrelevancies relate, dissonance becomes harmony, and nonsense wears a crown of meaning. But the clarifying leap springs from the rich soil of confusion, and the leaper is not unfamiliar with pain."
There is pain in innovation, particularly when risks are at stake--lives are altered in a manner that can result in step changes upwards successfully or downwards in catastrophic failure. That inductive leap which provides the forward momentum one direction or another, is oftentimes a balance of sparks of luck, sparks of ideas so close to become reality that sometimes only perseverance, will and angel investments can bring to life.
On the execution side of this innovation are the seats reserved for engineering when such invitations are recognized, be it the late night coding sessions (perhaps fed by the coffee urns of this very IHOP) or the more attainable realities kneaded into existence through design and technology: creation with the hands or of the caffeinated minds. Naysayers await for your crown of meaning to arrive--or not. We all await for these things to fall into place, hoping our creative intentions are involved in more than the catching and the receiving. There is undoubtedly passion that sets this mood---creation with full and uncompromising realization as the ultimate end. Or it's love---to paraphrase what Audrey Hepburn uttered as Sabrina, "Tonight I'm not the one reaching for the moon; the moon reached for me."
Science and engineering, creating those leaping, diving with form, fit and function.