Is it a good idea?
How do you know? It’s a nagging dream that will not go away. It’s a big idea that quickly became a dilemma. It’s a breakthrough innovation that requires significant investment of resources and your personal reputation.
Very often, the only answer comes by ignoring your uneasy nausea and trying to make it happen like these five people:
Jeffrey: Quit Wall Street job to move across the country to build an online catalog to sell books
Robert: Build a satellite phone system for $6B that will be accessible to most of the world
Joanne: Write a book about wizards as a single parent on public subsidies rather than going to school or finding a job
Roberto: Change the recipe of a beverage that has been losing sales to competitors
William: Purchase land, described by some as useless, from someone in financial trouble for $7.2 million
A good idea represents only 1% of making something happen. The remaining 99% (enablement) is doing all of the activities to ensure success. While the idea is 1%, the 99% (enablement) doesn’t happen unless you believe in the idea. Here is some self-reflecting Insight that may help you decide:
Beneficiary Insight – who benefits from the idea? What problem or unmet need is it addressing?
Aspirer Insight – person(s) pursuing the idea. Commitment, potential benefits and the personal impact.
Viability Insight – how would it be communicated? Can it be built? Can it be maintained ongoing?
Enablement Insight – activities to make it happen. People, communities, knowledge, funding, resources and timing.
In addition to Insight, we have the hindsight of many successful and unsuccessful pursuits:
Jeffrey (Bezo) acted upon his big idea in 1994 when he read an analysis that the internet would grow by 2300% each year. He quit his Wall Street Hedge Fund VP job to move across the country and his aspirer commitment helped him convince his wife to do the same. His internet, commerce, business start-up and capital knowledge helped him with “viability insight” and “enablement insight”. He embedded it in the business plan for Amazon while driving across country in a 1988 Chevy Blazer. Soon Jeffrey had a book catalog running online using the computers in his garage. He sent a link to his friends and quickly acted upon the beneficiaries’ feedback. 19 years later, Amazon generates $61B in revenue from the site Jeffrey created.
Robert (Galvin), then Motorola Chairman, had a proud day in 1998. Vice President of the United States, Al Gore made the first call with the Motorola’s Iridium satellite phone system. Just nine months later, the breakthrough innovation that Robert led, was bankrupt. The financial viability of deploying all 68 satellites to make it as reliable as cellular service was not possible. There were few beneficiaries willing to pay $3,000 for a large handset with spotty coverage.
Joanne (“J.K.” Rowling) was a committed aspirer writing her book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The 12 publishers that rejected her manuscript obviously didn’t have Joanne’s beneficiary insight. It wasn’t until a publisher’s eight year-old daughter started reading her manuscript that someone understood. The publisher acted on his daughter’s advice to publish the book. Her stories about young wizards have sold 400 million books and generated $7.7B in movie sales.
Roberto (Goizueta) was chairman of Coca-Cola in 1985 when he decided to launch his big idea: New Coke. The Coca-Cola beverage’s 60% market share in the 1940s slipped to under 24% in 1983. Pepsi-Cola began to outsell Coca-Cola in supermarkets. The new beverage recipe was launched as a replacement to the existing recipe to appeal to younger consumers. The long time beneficiaries of the “real thing” may have been an oversight. Three months after its launch, Coca-Cola had to bring back the original recipe amid what may have been the largest customer backlash of all time.
William (Seward) negotiated the purchase of Alaska in 1867 from the Russians who were eager to sell it to address its mounting debts. The low price was a result of the Russian’s receiving little interest in 1859 when they tried to sell it to either the United States or Great Britain. When the purchase was announced, American public opinion was not universally positive. Some called it Seward’s Folly. The beneficiaries turned out to be the descendants years later that enjoyed its natural beauty and resources such as gold, copper, and oil.
Is it a good idea? Aspirers’ would love to known in advance. The answer may only come from trying to make it happen.
If you are uneasy or not yet committed, Insight into the Beneficiary, Aspirer, Viability and Enablement may help. It may even save you a huge investment of time, money and personal reputation. It may also help you to make almost anything happen.