I'm constantly flabbergasted that some people want to give full credit for an idea, movement or event to a single person. "It wouldn't have happened without so-and-so!"

Well, they are right, but also wrong. Movements, from my experience, wouldn't happen without a whole lot of people moving them forward. If there is only one person responsible, it's not a movement, it's a party for one.

I'm really sad that I lost the link (if you can find it, tell me), but a while back I read a case study on the invention of Post-It notes that discussed the 3 types of people needed for them to actually hit the market (and become commonplace):

  • Creator
  • Catalyst
  • Champion

In fact, as the 3m case study explains, the Creator, Spencer Silver, had come up with the glue that makes the Post-It note work almost a decade before the Catalyst, Arthur Fry, found a use for the glue (keeping his church choir sheets staying put). But even then, it didn't even make it past corporate scrutiny until they found Champions: the people who were able to take the idea and sell it to others. Bob Molenda, Jack Wilkins, Joe Ramey and others all got behind the idea shown to them by the Catalyst, Art Fry, and made sure that the message was turned from potential to reality so that everyone could see how revolutionary this idea was.

Creators are the inventors, the coders, the people who come up with a crazy idea. Quite often, though, they aren't able to connect that crazy idea with a real life issue to be solved. That's the Catalyst's job. Catalysts are really awesome at understanding real life applications of wacky ideas. They are connectors. But Catalysts aren't always good at marketing their ideas nor can they replicate themselves, so they need Champions (many of them) to take that awesome application of the wacky invention and spread the word. The three types of people behind innovation are necessary to make ideas come alive and spread.

So, in every movement around us, we mustn't forget that it takes Creators, Catalysts and Champions to make it happen. Heroes don't work alone.