Marvelous human achievements are often, if not always, borne out of great ideas. When Thomas Edison invented at least few of the most indispensable items in the modern world, he demonstrated how a well executed idea can contribute to modern progress. In another light, we hear the word innovation. At the time of Steve Job’s death, innovation was rekindled as a famous word associated with the man behind Apple. While others regard Jobs as a great inventor, many argue that a more fitting word is innovator.
In the realm of business, any self-made entrepreneur would agree that one brilliant idea can provide the impulse to starting one great enterprise. But once a business takes off, one learns that innovation is a critical key to sustainability and thrive in a stiffly competitive environment. So, how should we treat ideas? Are they the end in themselves? How about innovation?
Anyone can create a myriad of business ideas. But how meaningful are these ideas? Many would talk loosely about innovation, but what does innovation actually mean? To gain a better understanding about these two concepts – ideas and innovation, let us take a look at some of the myths as we draw insights from a leadership advisor, Mike Myatt, who wrote “15 Ways to Transform Useless Ideas into Innovation”. (Read full article here.)
Myths about ideas and innovation
1. Great idea equals success.
Matt notes, “If your ideas consist of little more than random, incomplete thoughts existing outside a framework for execution you might have a problem.”
Some people are good at conceptualizing. Perhaps, any average person may regard them as pure genius, but what happens if their great concepts do not come to life? It is true that ideas can promise awesome achievements, but they remain only as ideas if they not accompanied by concrete actions for them to be realized.
2. Innovation is the same as an idea.
Experience teaches us that innovation does not come during the inception of a business idea, nor does it occur in the early stages of any start-up business. We also learn that innovation arises as a response to make those critical improvements in the way we do things. Thus, we understand that innovation and idea are not synonymous. Ideas, on the other hand, are plain concepts, waiting to be constructed into appreciable outputs as a result of effective execution.
“Disruptive innovation is rarely as simple as raw genius that bubbles-up. Most often innovation is the culmination of several things: a sound idea, vetted through great process, refined by innovative application, and brought to market by outstanding leadership. The difference between an idea and innovation is execution – don’t be the ‘idea’ person, be the innovator”, exclaims Matt.
3. Ideas are essentially good
Matt dispels this one myth as he asserts, “… ideas are inherently good things. Let me state right from the outset that I place little value on ideas. Not only do raw ideas have little intrinsic value, but they are often very costly. While I stipulate to the fact ideas can sometimes lead to great things, I also submit it is more frequently the case that ideas lead to distraction, disappointment, and even outright disaster.”
I personally do not believe that all ideas are necessarily good. While most may sound promising, I remain a doubting Thomas, until I actually see the actual results of such ideas claiming to be good.
4. Ideas are grounded in philosophy
According to Matt, “Ideas do not constitute a philosophy, principle, or strategy. An idea is not synonymous with a competitive advantage, an idea is not necessarily a sign of creativity, an idea does not constitute innovation, and as much as some people wish it was so, an idea is certainly not a business.”
Like I have previously stated, ideas are mere concepts waiting to happen. Although I agree with Matt about ideas as not signs of creativity, I must say that ideas are products of creative thinking. But those products of creative thinking hold little value unless they are tested on the basis of their implementation.
Ideas and innovation have become commonly used terms in the business domain. However, it is wise to understand that these two concepts are not synonymous in their truest essence.
What are some of the innovations you have done or have been inspired by? Please share in the comments below.