Richard Jones, Rock climbing and the economics of innovation:
I think one kind of knowledge is particularly important in climbing – and maybe in other areas of human endeavour, too. That’s simply the knowledge that something has already been done – the existence proof that a feat is possible. Guidebooks record that a climb has been done and where it goes, though not usually how to do it. To know in advance the physical details of how a climb is done – what climbers call “beta” – is considered to lessen the achievement of a subsequent ascent. But simply to know that the climb is possible (and have some idea of how hard it is going to be) is an important piece of information in itself.
Yes!! That's very important.
And yes in other areas as well. If you KNOW that it has been done, then you know the boundaries of the space you must search and won't waste time trying the enlarge the boundaries. Instead you'll confine your search to the known, the existing space.