"Not invented here" isn't a syndrome

People on the web celebrate the notion that things should be shipped out immediately. To support that goal, many solutions aim to quickly build upon existing ones. At the end, we often see indirectly what other people have already build. And this is the price we pay with our need for instant gratification: sameness. By using other people's solutions, we introduce a degree of sameness, which makes our products less distinguishable and less likely to succeed in the marketplace.

This is one of the reasons why I was skeptical when hearing that "not invented here" was called a syndrome. In fact I see nothing wrong with companies going forward on their own and trying out new things, even if that forces them to face bankruptcy. This is how they grow. The self-confidence they develop on their path is the reason why they have better chances for sustainable innovation. No one can be passionate about someone else's solutions, especially in the long term.

Every solution is different, because it considers different perspectives and assumptions. But people have one gift and it's called uniqueness. The downside with it is that the less we express it, the more we become like everyone else, simply through interacting with our surroundings. But that's also valid for companies, who look more outside than focus on what they are. When they lose their track, they start preaching how fast it is to build "the next big thing" out of the existing small pieces. In a sense, the faster they go, the less innovative they are and the more they simulate innovation.

We need to let go of such thinking and acting. "Invented here" isn't a disadvantage or sunk cost, but a reason to be here and the way to show what we believe in and what makes us unique. There's nothing wrong if that makes us feel better, as long as we stay humble. To survive, we often need to "re-invent" ourselves first, so "invented here" is as certain as change.

By not reusing existing solutions, companies show their real face, not the one through which they are "gaming" the system. If they can succeed, they will inspire others to do the same. Through the quality of the new solutions everyone would benefit.

"Not invented here" isn't a syndrome. It's the way more people should dare to go.