Staying Power

Some ideas come and go while others have real staying power. One of my favorite business writers, Gary Hamel, compares the odds of developing a lasting innovation to the survival rates we see in nature. In his July 2001 article in Fortune, Hamel points out that “for every 1,000 eggs laid, only one sea turtle will survive to adulthood.” Do we really need to conjure up 1,000 doomed ideas before we discover one persisting innovation? Maybe not.

Lasting innovations have a lot in common. For starters, they simplify work, and they are easy to learn.  People are busy, and they don’t want to invest time learning confusing programs.  We’ve all seen complex, labor intensive programs and they never last.

Also, it’s nearly impossible to mastermind an enduring innovation on your own, and it’s certainly impossible to implement one on your own. Feedback from customers, suppliers, associates, and top managers can give your new idea strength and credibility.  And when stakeholders participate in designing a new process they rally behind it. You need your reports to execute the idea and top managers to commit resources to its development. Support is critical to a new idea’s success.

Most importantly, innovations need to get results that are in line with the vision and strategy of the organization.  Specifically, does this idea improve customer perception, long-term learning and development, or financial results?  Sell your new idea like you would sell an exercise program, with before and after images demonstrating results.

Simplicity, collaboration, and results give your new idea the best shot at survival.