“Idea”​ is not a four letter word

Here are some reasons why your innovation initiative will fail. When they do, and, according to some estimates they will 90% of the time, you should learn from your mistakes and move on. It would also help to have an innovation morbidity and mortality conference so others can learn from your mistakes.

One reason your new product or process development might fail is what you call it. Whether you are an edupreneur trying to create a new course, certificate or degree program, an intrapreneur trying to add value to your organization by doing something new, a social entrepreneur on a quest to change the human condition or medical practice entrepreneur, people will be more or less willing to resist change depending on how they interpret your intent and mental image it creates-fight or flight or enthusiastic acceptance.

Most of the time, such efforts are packaged as ideas, changes, improvements, entrepreneurship or innovations. Be careful what you ask for since:

  1. An idea is a thought that never sees the light of day unless you translate it into something else
  2. An invention is an idea or discovery reduced to practice
  3. An innovation is something that is new or old done in a new way that results in a significant multiple of user defined value, typically 10x, when compared to a competitive offering or the status quo.
  4. An improvement is something new or old done in a new way that results in less than 10x user defined value.
  5. Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain,complex and ambiguous) environment with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation using a VAST business model
  6. There are as many definitions and understandings of the above terms as there are clients, customers, and industry stakeholders . Consequently, they come with biases, cynicism, fear and resistance when, for example, they hear about your next “innovation” strategy.
  7. “Entrepreneurship” can be a non-starter since it is frequently misinterpreted to mean teaching people how to start businesses, which is but one of many ways to satisfy the definition depending on the setting and role of change agents
  8. People seemed to be less threatened by “ideas” than “change” or “innovation”
  9. Creating more “value” implies that everyone agrees on what that looks like,and how to meausure it, which is not the case.
  10. Leading change is a team sport that, fundamentally is based on trust and building the case for the “why” before the “what” and the “how” . Exploring “ideas” and engaging followers in the process is a lighter lift than launching “disruptive innovation”

Words matter. Be careful what you ask for. “Idea” is not a four letter word, even in this overhyped world of innovation. “Disruption” is simply too disruptive.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Facebook

Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine ,teaches bioentrepreneurship and is Chief Medical Officer for Bridge Health and Cliexa. He is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org and author of the Life Science Innovation Roadmap.

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