Updated: Jan 18
Statements such as „we have enough ideas“ and „there is no lack of ideas“ may sound familiar to you. They have been common in the business world for many years. In discussions about innovations, they are often accompanied by explanations and complaints, that there are not enough people, time, funding or resources in general available to turn all the ideas into successful innovations.
On the other hand, we face unsolved problems, in companies, our society or as humanity in general. Of course, problem is a word that covers a broad range of issues or subjects. Let’s put aside the inconveniences, such as a broken coffee machine in the office, that will soon be repaired by a skilled person. Think about the development of innovative services and products your company needs to survive in the future. Regarding our society or humanity the impact of demographical change, serious health issues or environmental subjects might come up to your mind.
As the term problem has a negative connotation, we should also be aware of the many positive developments and achievements. Over the last decades millions of lives have been saved by medical research and treatments. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty due to economic and technological developments. Needless to mention all the useful services based on latest technologies many of us can enjoy.
In fact, there seems to be no shortage of serious problems. Think about diseases such as cancer in its various forms. Despite the many innovations, we also see fields of stagnation. A famous example is air travel. The required travel time, which is an important criteria, increased on important routes when the supersonic passenger jet Concorde was retired.
If you still believe that there is no lack of ideas think again: Why do so many ideas never turn into something visible or tangible? Why do sometimes even the persons who brought these ideas up don’t try to turn them into reality?
Some might argue, that this is a problem of missing people, time, money and other resources. But this can also be considered as missing effectiveness and efficiency of today’s efforts. Many innovations have improved the effectiveness and efficiency of processes, for example in the mass industrial production. These improvements were based on some kinds of ideas. In the end, you can consider all arguments for missing resources also as a lack of ideas for improvement or innovations.
Everybody who has developed innovations knows, that in the process of turning an idea into an innovation, often unexpected obstacles and challenges occur. Some of them require additional resources and ideas to get solved. Sometimes it turns out, that the obstacles and challenges cannot be overcome. In this cases the efforts do not lead to the wished innovation, but have probably created many helpful learnings.
As we often know better looking back, the idea or the set of ideas may have been unrealistic at that time. Ideas also can be very vague at the beginning. Things become more specific, while people work on such a vague idea and have to make decisions, choose paths for development, select solutions and so on. During this process it becomes more visible how realistic an idea is and what its real value could be.
If you keep ideas unspecific and make no attempts to realise them, you can continue to dream and discuss about them forever.
Be aware that there is a lack of ideas and innovations as long as serious problems exist.
Stay open minded to ideas in general and try to create more ideas that address serious problems.
Make efforts to clarify, further develop and try out ideas.
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This article was originally published on www.buero-zueri.ch