Scott Anthony refers to it as “the first mile” – that place where innovation moves from an idea on paper to the market.
It is often a treacherous first mile, full of obstacles of your own making and roadblocks thrown up by others. If you can’t make it through that first mile, says the international strategic adviser, then you may find that your great idea goes nowhere.
In a new book, appropriately called “The First Mile,” Anthony, managing partner of Innosight, provides a blueprint for how anyone can ensure that they don’t let themselves or others sabotage their innovation.
“What often happens is that people confuse a concept with a business or an idea,” he says. “They come up with something fun or interesting, but it gets screened out because it won’t drive value.”
For example, you may believe that you’ve got a really cool idea, but if it doesn’t drive a customer need consistently and reliably, then it won’t be profitable and will fail, he says.
“You have to go beyond the ‘what’ to the ‘why,’” he says. “Why should a customer or boss care? You’ve always got to understand what it is you’re selling.”
While this certainly makes sense, Anthony says it can often be difficult for the person infused with enthusiasm for an idea to see why the idea may not be just as appealing to others.
“Once we wrap our mind around our idea, then we reject what we don’t believe,” he says. “That’s why the first mile is so important. You recognize that any idea is partially right and partially wrong, and the quicker you figure out the weak points, the quicker you can fix them.”
Among his suggestions is first doing the documentation – simply writing down what you plan to do. He says that it’s often this most simple step that many innovators miss.
Once you’ve documented it, then it’s time to:
- Evaluate: This part of the process looks at the customer, the key stakeholders, the economics involved, how it will be commercialized, the team and the financing. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? He suggests one way to evaluate an idea is to role play. For example, let’s say you’ve come up with an idea for a device that will fly you to the grocery store. That means you need to play the role of the retailer who will sell it, the customer who will buy it (and the customer’s spouse) and even (read more here)
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