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VOL. 127 | NO. 198 | Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Let’s Grow

Measure Twice, Cut Once

By Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson

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MICHAEL GRABER & JOCELYN ATKINSON

Ideas are a dime a dozen, indeed; the old cliché holds true. When following a formal Innovation process, it pays to measure the size of the market potential and validating the concept before investing in a build.

To investors and shareholders, an endless proliferation of ideas signals a lack of strategy and desperation. Unmeasured ideas without serious market validation lack merit. After the idea generation or ideation phase is formally closed, it is time to put on the analytical hat.

Too many ideas are worse than the common cold for a fast-growing business. New product and service ideas can paralyze, confuse, or even constrict growth.

Ideas flow too freely to some entrepreneurs and driven executives. In our experience, many of the brainstormers are too busy to discern an idea’s true value. Often, they lack the expertise and patience to nurture an idea into its full market potential.

As the shiny new things, novel ideas can distract a company’s real mission and operational effectiveness – and dilute hard-earned, long-term brand equity if a new product or service gets launched that cheapens the company’s reputation.

Yet, there might be authentic monetizing magic in an idea, a seed of real growth. How can you tell? Measure. Validate. Do the hard work of doing your homework.

It is not an idea itself, but the successful execution of a worthy idea that makes a measurable difference. Capturing an idea, vetting its value, refining it into a leading product or service, that is the process by which an idea becomes worth many dozes of dimes.

Genuine innovation requires a pragmatic process. This is the real work, the boring part. Critical decisions need to be made early on with an unflinching eye. Include stage gates in the process where a concept may be killed if it does not meet muster.

The next time someone tells you that “ideas are cheap,” agree with them, then pull out your spreadsheets, competitive studies, customer feedback reports, and market validating research for your big idea.

If there is sound proof and a compelling plan, your idea may be market ready. For every idea that may have merit, apply the carpenter’s rule: measure twice, then cut once.

Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

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