The Most Painful Innovation Fatigue Factor: Innovator DeficienciesBy
Among the many barriers that we inventors, entrepreneurs and would-be innovators face is the one we can’t blame on others. Fatigue Factor #2 in our grid of fatigue factors is innovator deficiencies. It refers to the barriers we create for ourselves through excessive pride, unreasonably high valuation of the invention, arrogance, unwillingness to share or collaborate, stubbornness, unwillingness to delegate or gain the help of experts, and a host of other personal weaknesses. So many good ideas are killed by these personal flaws. They are painful to admit and recognize, but an awareness of our own weaknesses is not only the beginning of wisdom, it’s the beginning of innovation success.
The icon for this fatigue factor was designed by Mark Benyo, an artist in Appleton, Wisconsin (owner of Benyo Designs). It depicts a long chain (wrapping back and forth across the window of the icon) in which one of the links is replaced with a paperclip. The individual innovator/inventor in this case is the weak link in the cain of innovation. Unless that link is strengthened (perhaps with the help of strong allies or experienced guides), failure is likely. We offer more detail in the book, of course, and outline some steps that can be taken. Prospective innovators, take note. Look to yourself first to understand why your innovation goals are not being reached, and then find the right help to take you to the next level.
One of the most common innovator deficiencies involves excessive pride, which translates into unreasonable expectations regarding the value of an early-stage invention or concept. Valuation of inventions is always difficult. However, if you think your embryonic invention is worth many millions or even billions, chances are you’re way out of line at this point. An idea alone usually has very little marketable value. An idea converted into working prototypes and a valid patent has more value, but the real value comes only by addressing the many risks that potential licensees or acquirers face. Can it be produced economically? Is it safe? Does it meet unmet needs? Can it be marketed successfully? Will it sell in the marketplace? Can it withstand the competitive response? These risk factors take time and money to address. The idea may ultimately be worth billions, but no one is going to hand you a truck load of money for something that is just a twinkle in your eye and maybe a piece of government paper on your wall. Not yet. It will take time, diligence, and investment for the potential to be discovered. Until then, have reasonable expectations as you collaborate to bring your concept to the market place, so that ultimately you can enjoy a cut of the potential returns your innovation can bring.
Erratum in the book: An unfortunate but minor error in the printed book is that the icon for innovator deficiencies (shown at the left) is not at the beginning of the chapter on Fatigue Factor #2, as it should be. Instead the icon shown there is the one for Factor #5, “Flaws in Judgment and Decision Making.” Sorry about that! The icons in the fatigue factor grids are correctly displayed.