My Challenge To The Innovation Community

I am always surprised by the number of people who say “I don’t know where you get all your ideas from” or “I have lots of ideas but never any good ones” or “I’ve got this idea but I don’t know how to take the next step”…

The way I see it, the innovation process comprises a series of hurdles. Viewed in isolation, it might seem a long way from idea to business, but it shouldn’t be such a quantum leap when you break things down, step-by-step.

The first hurdle is to have an idea: I am adamant that everyone has ideas, so let’s move on to step two.

You’ve got to realise that you’ve had an idea: Too many people dismiss their ideas as a mere passing thought, without recognising that it could be the kernel of something much bigger.

Third, you’ve got to be willing to act on your idea: A huge percentage of people don’t get past this point… Maybe they don’t know what to do next? Perhaps they’ve got a family to look after or a mortgage to worry about, and don’t feel that they can afford to take the risk?

Assuming you can get past that hurdle, the next step is to envision how your idea might become a scaleable business: That is not to say that you need a fully developed business case, but you must at least have a sense of how to monetise whatever product or service you are providing. 

And finally, you’ve got to be able to execute on that vision: As Yoda says Do or do not, there is no try!

Now, let’s put some numbers to that whole exercise…

Say only 10% of prospective entrepreneurs get past each hurdle. If we started with 10,000 people with ideas, by the time they’ve realised it, been willing to act, envisioned how their idea might become a business and executed that vision, we’ve only got one person left.

My challenge to the innovation community is this:

How can we improve the ratio of people overcoming each hurdle?

Just think about it… If only we could double the number of people progressing to the next stage, all of a sudden we would have sixteen times as many aspiring entrepreneurs giving life to their idea!

[Originally posted May 2011]