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There's a misconception that breakthrough products or services are always created by smart young brains. But the evidence shows that innovation is ageless.

Every generation has its own slang and everyone over the age of 40 give or take a few years professes not to understand what "the kids" are saying, singing or emoji-ing. This isn't exactly new inter-generational news.  But it is part of a pervasive belief that is foisted upon us regularly and religiously by the mass media and, even more so, by lazy marketers. They  are quick to use age cohorts as speedy and simplistic guides to extract all sorts of meaning and to help them explain (or perhaps, more honestly, attempt to justify)  behaviors which, in truth, are far more complicated and more broadly distributed than they would prefer to admit or perhaps actually even understand. They seize on age as a shorthand, much like a drunk grabs a lamppost - not so much for illumination as for support.

They tell us that we act consistently and predictably in well-defined clusters and age-inflected groups; that our beliefs, desires and ultimately our own actions are inexorably dictated by chronological metrics; and thus demographics enforced by custom, tradition and peer pressures are the primary be-all and the end-all keys to discovering and manipulating our behaviors. The bulk of this conversation and most of the application of this idea has been toward product and service consumption. Yet every four years as we enter a new election cycle, we read, see and hear a great deal about how the same approach dictates the speeches, strategies, and spending of our politicians as well as they parade before and pander to defined segments of the populace.

A parallel and probably more unfortunate belief-- and one that's especially troublesome to old guys like me-- is that problem-solving abilities, the creation of novel solutions, and pure inventive powers belong to the young. This capability is known as fluid intelligence.  Conversely, we're told that our vision, flexibility and perceptions - basically our ability to see outside and beyond the boxes that we each build around ourselves - hardens along with our arteries and becomes far less agile and flexible as we age. The theory is that in order to keep moving forward as we grow older, we come to rely on a different and distinct set of skills based on our accumulated experience and iterative abilities. We thus focus more on incremental innovations and improvements rather than inspirational and game-changing moonshots. Not, just to be clear, that there's really anything wrong with that approach.

This more mature and deliberative capability is sometimes described as crystallized intelligence and relies on accumulated knowledge, pattern recognition and strategies of successive approximation rather than waiting for things to be perfect.  Of course, these are the talents and the basic tools of every seasoned entrepreneur.

But the pundits and "professionals" would argue that break-through discoveries and major strides forward in tech, innovation and new business development in general are age-bound and belong primarily to the young. We hear this theory expressed as indisputable gospel virtually every day in the tech world and, of course, in Hollywood as well where aging is definitely a mortal sin.

There was no new invention at work here - simply, innovation achieved through successive approximation and repeated attempts to keep getting a little bit better all the time. And just to be clear, these weren't newbie doctors;  they were clinicians of every age and stripe who came together to share information, exchange their practical experiences, and document the outcomes of hundreds of trials.

If anything, this was a clear example, not of youthful and inspired invention, but of hard-core applications of the very traditional scientific methods which had been around just short of forever, and which are at the very heart of successful innovation.

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