Published in Mar-Apr 2019
We have taken them for granted because they come for free, mostly out of nowhere and are used (or abused) liberally, at will, for the benefit of your clients. That is the nature of ideas. They are useless, until they are not. They are pointless, until they happen to ignite the future. And they are worthless, until someone decides to pay for them. After all, a manufacturer’s patent doesn’t spread quite the way a creative person’s ideas do.
Ideas can change fortunes. We all know that. But to do so, they must possess the good fortune to land in the hands and minds of those who have the agency to see them through. As Lee Iacocca said: “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” Or the clients paying for them, to boot. But, sadly, like the majority of products, dreams and start-ups, most ideas don’t see the light of day. This is not because they are not any good. They might be spectacularly remarkable. Merited with demonic economics to shift paradigms and cultivate new markets. And they might even have survived the most myopic boardrooms. But to get ideas through, we need a system – a set of logistics so to speak – that can transport your cargo of emotion, through the client, to the customer and in ways that can leave them aggressively intact, beautifully-packaged and ready to harness the change they have been made to unleash.
Dr Rodney Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s great biotech visionaries, says that new ideas alone are no guarantee of success. He used to have them all day, by the dozen, often at the expense of someone else stealing and patenting them. But, he says, it is the implementation of these ideas that blazes trails. He points out the number of times any one of us is guilty of saying how ‘I could have come up with that,’ quite forgetting that possibly thousands of people are manufacturing ideas in their heads all day, but only a handful have the audacity and the stamina to see them through. Idealists, who didn’t stop at mere generation, but pursued their idealism to productisation. They made it happen – which happens to be Perkins’ motto. Let’s say they followed through with their own supply chain for ideas.
Sadly, most of us don’t know of such a supply chain. Which is okay – because it doesn’t exist – or is so uniquely personalised to the temperament of its creators, it can’t be scaled. So I looked around but ended up concluding that there is really no such thing as a set of logistics capabilities for the business of ideas. Which is why, we continue to invest time, energy and money in the conditions required to generate ideas, but we lay ignorance, apathy or a lacklustre imagination on those who just don’t ‘get’ it. So what do we do?
Shouldn’t there be a set of conditions, principles or processes dedicated to the implementation stage of ideas and where they can actually be delivered effectively? In supply chain terminology, shouldn’t ideas have some ‘process flow’ associated with them after they have been generated so that they stand the best chance of speed to market without human or technical error getting in the way?
Logistics gets a bad rap. It’s often seen as a tedious and humdrum back office faculty. Yet, without logistics, our interdependent and interconnected global economy would fall apart – which is precisely how we should think about logistics for ideas. While creating an idea is important, it is in keeping it current, in process and tied to significant milestones that will help it along to yield its wonder.
Charles Dickens was prescient in noticing “an idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” Ironically, it is the leading logistics firms that have harnessed the power of systems, processes and supply chain methodologies to orchestrate the flow of goods and services. Ideas, too, need to be managed, moved along and presented at the right touchpoints to have real, lasting value. Value that can help them explain themselves at every intersection of their journey. Instead of an adhoc process, valuable ideas deserve their own supply chain to minimise waste and cycle times and maximise their potential and impact.
Or we will be heading back to the drawing board.
Faraz Maqsood Hamidi is CE & CD, The D’Hamidi Partnership.