From idea-to-product… It gets personal Tips From the Trenches

Images of experiments and prototypes come to mind when we think of transforming ideas into innovative products. While these are essential exercises, don’t believe for a minute that this journey is solely an objective scientific one. In fact, the entire process is loaded with emotional content and feeling that can be triggered at any time. Bottom line… it gets personal.

It gets personal from the moment the idea begins to take shape. We get advice warning us not to fall in love with our ideas. And it’s true that we need to make decisions based on objective criteria, but consider this: without the excitement that invariably accompanies a new idea, who would take any steps at all to pursue its possibilities? Whenever I meet inventors who have come up with a new idea, they are full of enthusiasm and hope, as well they should be. If they’re not committed and passionate about their ideas, it’s doubtful anyone else will be. Passion at the earliest stages of a project is a gift if it leads to action.

It gets personal the first time we speak about the idea and the naysayers chime in with “dream killing” comments. That negativity, if taken to heart, can raise doubts and be the end of a good idea. Of course, we need to reach out to smart people for constructive criticism, but there is a time to engage with others and a time to nurture the idea until it can be articulated clearly and is ready to be tested.

It gets personal at every stage of concept development since each can mean the end of the dream. And so with every success, a kind of trepidation can set in as we become more emotionally invested in an idea that may actually work. It is said that testing celebrates failure, but when our own ideas are at risk, that’s hard to stomach. This is typically a time when mood swings can kick in ranging from elation (when things work out) to depression and abandoning the idea (when they don’t.) On the bright side, it can also be a freeing experience if a project doesn’t prove viable. We can now move on to the next idea grateful not to have invested a lot of time and money.

It gets personal when our development team weighs in and we have to keep our emotions in check to keep the project on a positive track. It’s not easy watching our ideas morph into something different from what we originally intended, even if it means something better. Another emotional low point can be when our target consumers in focus groups do not respond well to the concept. On the other hand, some great suggestions for improvements can result from these sessions. A bigger test comes when it’s time to get the idea in front of a prospective customer or investor. Watch someone dismiss your idea after all the work you’ve done as “not ready for prime time” and you’ll understand pain.

This process from creative concept to innovation takes guts. We are not our ideas although we are invested in them. Be prepared to get out of your own way. Even after all these years, I have to remind myself daily to leave my ego at home. As to your own personal moments, and they will come, these are all opportunities to realize your passion by focusing on what matters most… advancing the idea one step at a time.

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