New & Improved Business Innovation
Sometimes creating brilliant new ideas is easy. It's trying to convince other people of the brilliance of an idea that's difficult. There's your 99% right there. And the worst part of it is that many times we're on the other end of the 99%.
"Get that toy out of my office!" An irate banker telling Thomas Edison to take his invention, the phonograph, someplace else.
A crazy idea called "xerography" How many documents did you touch today that have been photocopied? In business today the photocopier is a business necessity, and it's been a staple of the business world for several decades now. However, in the late 30s, Chester Carlson tried to sell his idea of "xerography" to the big technology companies like IBM and Kodak. They rejected his idea.
But you know how the story ends. After $75 million dollars in research, in 1960 a little known company called Haloid-Xerox (now Xerox) unveiled the first $29,500 Xerox copier with a $95/month lease that included 2,000 free copies (four cents for each additional copy), plus guaranteed maintenance of the temperamental copiers. It was an overnight success 25 years in the making.
"Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration." Thomas Edison
A home-run hit that everyone believed in during development? No, not even the development group believed in it. "Various members of our own group would come in and tell me that the damn thing would never work," said John Dessauer, head of the Haloid-Xerox R&D division. Such a limited amount of faith for a product that would eventually become a business staple and turn into a $15 billion business for the company. So what can we learn? Just this: don't kill new ideas before you fairly consider them.
One way to do that is by using a technique called the PPCO. The PPCO is a technique that looks at each idea strategically, affirmatively, and deliberately by assessing the following:
Imagine you were in charge of doling out venture capital in the late 30s and some garage-engineer-crackpot named Carlson approached you with his pioneer technology to replace the mimeograph machine. You might use the PPCO this way:
New ideas look strange. They seem impractical. They make us feel uncomfortable, and they change the status quo. But they also unleash $15 billion dollar industries. And the way to make sure that we're part of that success is to avoid prematurely killing ideas and instead judge them fairly and deliberately. With the PPCO. •
©2004 Jonathan Vehar. All rights reserved.
Jonathan Vehar is a Senior Partner at New & Improved, an organizational development firm focused on the people skills for innovation. More
188 Strategies to Catalyzing Innovation
Scar Tissue: Celebrating Failure
Turning Off Judgment to Turn On New Ideas!
Innovation Space Exploration
Diving Deeper into Innovation
How to Generate Better Ideas
How to Be Creative
The Value of Making Mistakes
Avoid Prematurely Killing the Next Big Idea
To Solve the Problem Ask the Right Question
Answers with the SCAMPER Method
Creating the Elevator Speech