But is it a good idea?

All new business initiatives start with an idea. Yet even some of the best ideas fail in fulfilment, often for the wrong reasons. How often do we see companies go to market, with great enthusiasm and the best ideas, only to be overcome by circumstances and unforeseen forces?

One early example may be the death of the superior Betamax VCR of the 1970’s compared with the VHS. The reasons VHS won are varied, but what was clear is that Betamax had superior audio and video quality, yet it failed.

How good is this?

Any business serious about innovation has a process that provides some sort of rapid idea first pass assessment, the aim, of course, being to quickly find where to best focus development and commercialisation efforts.

Indeed, an axiom we always teach is to “fail fast and fail cheap” as experience has shown us that too often companies persist with a new initiative far beyond what is commercially sensible. Perhaps the endeavours to introduce two-way paging may be an example. This was a product brought to market at the time when mobile phones were becoming small and popular, in particular when the fabulous NOKIA’s phones were starting to flood the market.

The diffusion model with weighted scoring

Diffusion is the term given to a new product and explores the rate at which it will diffuse into the market, somewhat analogous to a dye being poured into water. It differs from market penetration which asks what the size of the market is, but rather it asks the rate of market uptake.

An overlooked success indicator

To run a product through the Diffusion Model only takes a few minutes with many of the questions asked being unique. These questions have been developed and refined over years, questions we have never found in other tools, including:

  • What will be the consequences of us adopting this technology if it does not work? Unfortunately, the 737 Max might be a present-day example and is one reason airlines don’t fit all their fleets with one brand, for example, use both Boeing and Airbus.
  • How difficult will it be for the market to understand this product? – The facsimile machine is a good example with these needing to be sold in pairs to opposite, usually geographically separate, places at the same time. Diners Card, the first credit card, was a classic example of a product the market and in particular vendors and shop owners simply failed to understand.

What now?

First pass assessment is vital, but number one on the assessment list is never to fall in love with a new idea and be driven alone by passion and enthusiasm.

“Enthusiasm is a dangerous thing unless modulated by good judgement and common sense.”

Roger La Salle, innovation trainer, Matrix Thinking

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