Sarah Walkowiak and I came up with the following chart while trying to characterize for ourselves various differences–mostly in one’s approach–between making a new thing happen (what David Perkins and Daniel Wilson call “bridging the idea-action gap”) and improving an established thing.
Our hypothesis: that the new thing covers the biggest distance on the scale of goodness and the least distance on the scale of time. That it is scary, and takes a certain quality of mind, comfort with doubt, self-assuredness (indeed the whole thing is in doubt and your own value dubious until you do it), an artfulness, maybe a bit of thaumaturgy. That improving the established thing, conversely, is less doubtful (because it exists), and the payoff is less (but more consistent), and the quality of mind needed is slightly different. (I might note that this is a Bergsonian duality for those wise people who love Henri Bergson).
We thought this was all fairly self-evident stuff, but significant for us because in the world of higher education, and libraries, and IT departments (our world), we felt a long, relatively static cycle had led us to be well-positioned to iteratively improve existing things, while not being particularly good at the evocation of novelty. And we felt that cultivating a certain amount of novelty was the best way we could prepare ourselves for a changing world.