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Making Money from Ideas
A while back, I wrote a short piece on ideas and in the spirit of innovation – especially with the Load Shedding API competition that we’re running (https://loadshedding-api.sintrex.com/) – I thought that I would share a practical flow of how we try to guide ideas towards potentially becoming commercial products.
Where We Start
Innovation comes from thinking, so providing a rigid brief stifles free thought.
As an example, if you want to illuminate a room, you don’t ask for innovative ideas on ceiling mounted electrical lights. You merely ask for ideas on how to light up the room.
Allow time for thinking and research and encourage all ideas by saying that there are no boundaries: the end goal is to light up a room by any means. Have follow-up sessions to discuss ideas and allow everyone to share their train of thought.
If some members have no ideas, that’s okay because they might latch onto someone else’s ideas and provide additional insights into those.
Discuss the research gathered thus far to make sure that you’re not doing what has already been done. (If you plan to make your idea a commercial offering.)
Collaboration and Prototype
Try to group similar ideas together and encourage people to work on those. If you can, obtain a mockup or prototype to gauge the feasibility. Meet up and allow people to present their designs and/or prototypes.
Encourage and praise the positives, while also providing constructive criticism, where needed.
Sometimes we tend to do too much because we have so many ideas. However, it is equally important to guide people into getting the basics right (without bursting anyone’s bubble along the way...).
Start documenting the scope of what your final product should and should not be. Review the effort and costs required to complete the project and build a few commercial models to assist with your business case. Research the demand for what you’re building.
The easiest way is to engage with your existing clients, who, generally, will give you honest feedback and probably also be able to share additional thoughts on what they would really like out of a “product like that”!
And remember to always review the problem that you’re trying to solve.
Time and Refinement
The quicker you can push innovation(s) into products, the sooner you can enjoy success – but make sure that you release products that work and have processes in place to address any refinements that may be required thereafter.
The difficult task is finishing the product and taking it to market. It is also the most stressful time for all involved, so be aware of this and support the teams responsible for implementation. Fix the bugs quickly and make sure that you keep your clients up to speed on your changes.
This is by no means a methodology or rigid process, but just a peek into how we try and do it.
By Emile Biagio