The valley of death is an hackneyed term used to describe where startups run out of money. This can be solved, early earlier-stage investors and policy-makers contend, by giving them more money. I’ve argued before this is misguided. The reason why is a cautionary tale to anyone leading a new venture.
Ideas are overrated. I’ve said this before, but I just ran across this quote from Isaiah Berlin, describing Leo Tolstoy’s approach to understanding war and history. If we take his meaning to heart, we could all be better students of innovation.
Innovation is about making the possible desirable and the desirable possible. But which direction innovation takes depends in large part on what choices we have when it comes to expressing those desires and who wants to control those choices. Continue reading
I’m not a big fan of ideas. Sure, ideas are great — some of my best friends are ideas. But managers tend to let our national obsession about having new ideas distract them from the hard work of building good products and successful ventures around what are almost always old ideas. So it was fun to see the great design OXO have at a competitor who claimed to “own” an idea that both had built products around.
Innovation is risky business. For companies pursuing sustainable innovations, these risks take on the scale of the effort and the context of the problems, the politics, and the markets involved. The most important aspect of this challenge to sustainable innovation is understanding the nature of risk at work. Without this understanding, innovation efforts are paralyzed and innovation policies—especially those intending to promote new investments—stifle them instead.
Most every bit of advice you’ll find for entrepreneurs is about making the leap, but leaping is not for everyone so it’s important to figure out whether it’s for you. Just beware of setting out to test your entrepreneurial DNA.