A venture firm presented their search process. It began with examining about a 1,000 companies. Of those, they analyzed business plans from about 300. Only about a dozen received funding of which about half made money. Only one or two earn enough to make the effort worthwhile.
I recalled this presentation when I read Venessa Wong’s article, “Taco Bell’s Secret Recipe for New Products” (BloombergBusinessweek, May 29, 2014). She cites that Taco Bell reviews 4,000-4,500 ideas a year of which they test only 300-500 resulting in only 8-10 that make their national menu. As a case study, Wong chronicles their Waffle Taco.
When we commercialize creativity’s secret thus producing the innovative process, the core theme, the relentless, repetitive application of trial and err, remains intact. However, another introduces itself: casting a wide net and accepting disappointments. For instance, gold mining requires acceptance that 99.9999% of what we dig up is worthless dirt, and that’s for a good mine!
Implication for daily business is that if we shut down dissent, negativity and conflict, people will fear expressing sincere thoughts, thus constricting our net and retarding innovation and problem-solving. The price of innovation, of solving the problem of our improvement’s future origins, is accepting we will hear and experience things we don’t like, especially failure.
That’s means fighting the strong, natural inclination to associate with only those we like and with whom we agree. We don’t need to like or agree with people to benefit creatively and innovatively. Removing these people from our circles reduces access points and diversity. A million people holding the same idea still only represent one idea, a very poor parent of innovation.
Ships don’t sail with tightly closed sails. They must be wide and full with any wind they can catch.
Related post: Secret to Creativity