Turning Great Ideas Into Viable Solutions

While trying to clean up my inbox (a fundamentally futile activity), I stumbled on that describes the early enthusiasm in emulating silk from spiders and silkworms, the years of research to understand the underlying principles, the trial-and-error of turning the concept into viable solutions, and a few success stories. 

Unfortunately, the road from idea to viable solution is often long and rocky - we covered some of the challenges and opportunities in the "Stories from the Trenches" series.  “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door" rarely pans out, because it "focuses solely on the technology and not on the consumer. Consumers really don’t care about a better mousetrap. They care about fewer mice." (  "The Race to Put Silk in Nearly Everything" covers the technical challenges but also the difficulty of finding Geoffrey Moore's "beachheads" ( and building a "whole product" solution (watch the YouTube clip of Steve Jobs announcing the iPod technology but also how it fits into the Apple digital strategy).  

This requires extensive knowledge of the target client (their pain points. capabilities, size, and alignment with your solution), dogged persistence, and lots of patience.  Ed Catmull of Pixar emphasises the importance of "people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many inherently unforeseeable problems." (  An obvious beachhead may prove too hard to breach because of the client's situation or unsurmountable issues discovered during in full lifecycle of the solution.  The knowledge gained will help identify better beachheads, and in time, the first beachhead may come around again.  More importantly, each beachhead achieved builds confidence in the innovation and also in the process of converting great ideas to solutions that make a meaningful impact.

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