Generally speaking, Innovation Management is about how to pick an innovation-promising idea and turn it into revenue.
We all know or have heard about the quote that: “Ideas are nothing, execution is everything” or something similar to that, e.g. the evangelist of OKR John Doerr said:
How to pick the most promising one from thousands of ideas is not an easy job. In Design Thinking there is an important step “Prototyping“. There are important reasons behind why we need more prototyping before investing money:
- We tend to fall in love too early and too easily in our own ideas. True and easy to understand, because the idea(s) is/are MINE. We can find an explanation with the “IKEA-effect” in psychology.
- We tend to overestimate the ability of imagination of our potential customers. We explain them a certain idea and expect that they will immediately understand as we do. Most of the time if we interview a potential customer and ask for feedback, we will not definitely get a response that is true or objective enough.
During my interactions with my 6-year-old boy, he inspired me to write the short story on LinkedIn:
LEGO Duplo is not a very serious tool for prototyping, but it is important to understand the PRINCIPLE behind: Before investing more money and time in production, make a cheap prototype, show them to your potential customers or users, gain feedback as early as possible.
Even it would mean a failure, it is better to fail early and fail cheap than fail late but fail expensively.
There are some common concerns, e.g.:
- If I show my idea before it is really produced, I might seem unserious and unprofessional before my customer.
- If I show my idea too early to the market, my idea could be stolen by the fast imitators.
To No.1: I think nowadays customers would feel grateful if we show them a prototype and ask for feedback. They even feel being valued because you believe that their feedback would offer insight to your idea. View this as a CHANCE to start a customer-centric co-creation. This will lower your risk of failing and the difficulties of market entry.
To No.2: If there is a certain fast imitator who would copy your idea every quickly, this could be an indication that, your innovation is not an innovation at all or you are not really an innovator to the market. In this case, let this easy-to-be-copied idea R.I.P. It would be better to invest your time and money to a more promising one.
Further more, an imitator or a copy-cat does not bear the owner’s mindset and therefore could not offer great service afterwards. People who want to earn quick money will only gain quick money, that is it. Bearing an owner’s mindset and entrepreneur’s mindset will definitely influence the quality of your product and after-market service, which will influence the reputation and the sustainability of the company in the long run.
Last but not least, don’t think people outside are just sitting there doing nothing but waiting for a brilliant idea to copy. Making a copy-cat also costs time and money. 99% of the people out there are busy with their own stuff and will have less time and money to do a simple copy-cat.
I hope you can enjoy prototyping and testing your business idea, and of course, have success as soon as possible.
(First published on in 2020)