Innovation Actors

Ryan Frederick
6 min readMay 3, 2022

I speak with and run into many innovators who can recite a bunch of innovations happening by others. They can rattle off countless new products and companies doing incredible stuff.

I had one of these discussions recently, and it hit me that the other person hadn’t mentioned anything they were involved in or working on. When I asked them what they were working on, they didn’t have an answer. They were innovating vicariously through others.

This is representative of the times to a degree. There is so much new happening in every aspect of business and life — what a time to be alive, as TikTok’ers might say. The daily email newsletters highlighting exciting stories about new technologies and the companies behind them are staggering. The next new thing will be in your inbox tomorrow or Twitter feed later today if 24 hours is too long. The volume and pace of new things being created are impressive, if not overwhelming. So many advancements and improvements to how we live and conduct business are happening right in front of us. Giddyup.

The founders, inventors, creators, designers, engineers, and alike behind all of this newness are unquestionably innovators. They are in the arena, doing and taking action, and not actors.

The advent of so much being created and experimented with also has created a category of innovation actors. Innovation actors are tuned into the latest stuff, but stuff that is being done by others. With a dizzying display of their innovation pulse, they can leave you spellbound by recounting example after example of cool things they’ve come across. “Did you hear about what this company is doing in fintech, or this other one in agtech, or edtech. Oh, and this one company using AI with VR and IoT is doing amazing things. Oh and…”

However, innovation actors aren’t actually involved in any real innovation themselves. Innovation actors are pseudo-journalists. They see their role as innovation fountains of information, consciously or unconsciously (my guess is more unconsciously). Most that I run into don’t appear to have any intention of actually being innovators. They are content sharing what others are doing while receiving the benefits of appearing innovative themselves. It is an innovation by association for innovation actors.

Ryan Frederick

Building & Funding Digital Innovation