This writer seldom does any site type of communications in person.  Very few people acquainted with the author realize the site even exists.  Speaking engagements would never be entertained and consultations would be more of a set of lessons adjusted as learning about the client grows the relationship.  Fast paced verbal communication isn’t in the author’s repertoire; writing for the blog is just what’s best.  Know thyself . . .

Then the inevitable personal cornering occurred – and the question(s) – from a verbal adept, a lady of middle years.  The questions, persistently unsatisfied, centered on the why all those great ideas don’t seem to be in the marketplace.

Paragraph long questions are hard to grasp.   On point answers can be illusions.  Exasperation mounts – stimulated, frustrated exasperation can lead to a story form of answer.

Sigh . . . The ‘metaphor’ that brought the torture to an end might be something my readers can use as well.  The very condensed version follows:

Lone inventers, professor led university groups and company teams all labor on ideas with the best facilities they can manage – building out a laboratory of the special tools and equipment needed to set up, test and revise the great idea.

It takes considerable amounts of money and much time goes by as the flow of cash and material come into the effort.  By necessity the process is slow as what is done, what happens, changes made and every possible event is documented – if not for future proof, but for cataloging the process so that the possible directions and adaptations can flow without repeats or circling around a failure.  You have to know where you’ve been in the process to choose effectively where to go next.

Those minds then nurture, test, develop, reinvent and storm through all the possibilities just to get the idea, theory, or gadget to work.  From one to perhaps dozens of minds will be applied – and the result must be something that others can duplicate.

About that time patents are filed and papers are written.   Across the whole of the minds working on the idea the full scope of just how to get it to work exists.  The full scope of intelligence may very well not be easily transferred.

The project will have been closely manipulated, tweaked and might just barely yield the hoped for results.  The matter then becomes – and here is the threshold – can the new technology be larger?  Is the lab size process the limit?  Will the technology be stable and steady enough that regular people can run a large facility?

That’s where the question “Will it grow to commercial scale?” comes in.  Some ideas are so devilishly sensitive in operation that getting to scale would need far too much investment or far too much expensive personal oversight.  That’s only the first step – because the product must be sold and regular people must want to use it.  These are daring enterprises, indeed.

Other minds are going to use all successful great ideas.  People who design, build and then run facilities must at least in part grasp the technology.  Getting investment in the form of venture capital is rife with trends and the investors’ own ideas about technology and what opportunities are going to be.  A technology sale is also very difficult, sometimes the psychology of naturally fitting companies have a barrier called ‘not invented here’ that stops management directives from proceeding.

At the end though is the person of average intelligence, bombarded with information, advertising and life’s usual and unusual problems being motivated to buy and use the great idea.  Even ideas that would naturally be niches for the wealthy, intelligent or early adopter must be concepts that can be sold.

Along the way hundreds if not thousands of decisions will be made. It’s easy for one decision to set things off course, costing too much, delaying and likely killing the great idea.  Meanwhile another better idea can come along.

We’re all vulnerable to ‘energy crisis’, ‘change’ and other catchwords and phrases that center our attention on ideas that will make life better.  Biofuels can work, ethanol is here made from plant starch and sugar, nuclear fission works and can be used much more, better and safer.  Its more likely these industries will develop, the knowledge base is built – than the unknowns of algae or fusion – they must disrupt all existing infrastructure, at very low cost.

Lots of sunken investment could be at risk, politics will regulate with little provocation and if enough money’s involved or entrenched interests at risk or stimulated they will trigger even more barriers.

If the path to a working great idea was hard – then the path to market may be far longer and tougher than most minds of great ideas imagine.

The fields of energy and fuels could be said to be ‘lucky’ as the disruption is ongoing from price spikes to tragic loss of life, environmental and economic damage on to pollution and the desire to solve these problems.  Great ideas never had better fields of opportunity – but all those points above are still going to apply.

And yet, great ideas can age a bit, information moves across the planet at the speed of light, what might not be a breakthrough today can be tomorrow, or be the seed of the successful great idea in the future.  That’s one of the reasons we’re all here.


3 Comments so far

  1. Matt Musson on June 12, 2010 7:09 AM

    If you build a better mousetrap – you still need a venture capitalist and government backed loan – or you are going nowhere.

  2. Phlebotomy Certification on November 8, 2010 7:49 AM

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  3. Eileen Blazina on November 21, 2010 9:54 AM

    Great post I Agree with your leading points and think the title says it all, I enjoyed reading and I will surely come from time to time to read more of your writing. sustain the good work!

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