Ideas. Where do they come from? Why are some successful and others not? Why is it that so many of them seem “obvious” with the benefit of hindsight?
Clearly, ideas and their outcomes and impact come in all shapes and sizes- fulfilling many different purposes- from the seemingly absurd through to the widely-adopted, but largely incremental; to the world-changing.
Paul Graham (a co-founder of Y-Combinator, and serial publisher of thoughtful essays) recently published a short one entitled “Crazy New Ideas”, in which he made the point that: “Someone proposes an idea that sounds crazy, most people dismiss it, then it gradually takes over the world”.
Consider, for example, the fairly recent example (for those of us born before they even existed!) of the mobile phone (cellphone)- from obviously pretentious, brick-sized, mono-functional fad to indispensable multi-purpose “smartphone” tool, “attached” to its owner’s hand and an extension of his/her/their personality. While the technology had many components and creators, it took the mono-maniacal genius and perfectionism of someone like Steve Jobs to create something globally desired, coveted and literally possessed.
The world is full of nay-sayers and skeptics, who mock something that they did not think of and cannot comprehend. Very often they are actually right- failure of execution is almost a default setting for many “ideas”. But sometimes, just sometimes, they create the legendary “fly-wheel” effect; and change what we do and how we behave. Amazon, when one thinks about it, was a simple idea- using the growing capabilities of the nascent internet to sell books. Yet, from the mind of Jeff Bezos and the creation of a compounding business model, it has become another “default setting”, and perceived as an existential threat to a whole range of traditional businesses. Simple idea; persistent development, adaptation and expansion; and now pervasive source- even if it now has an increasing number of (at least partial) imitators. One could almost say that Amazon created a new business category.
Of course, the failure rate of new ideas, but emergence of the occasional “game-changer” means that mourning “the one that got away” is almost ritualistic for the venture capital industry; and why FOMO is endemic, leading to what amounts to a feeding frenzy upon those astute to come up with a plausible idea and pitch deck.
Perhaps we are too cynical?!
Perversely, as Graham points out in his essay, creators themselves can undervalue their own ideas, and so over-filter them before trying advance them and then to share them publicly. After all, the aphorism: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” also exists for a reason.
Awbury itself exists because of an idea that became a business plan and is now a franchise. We know the value of having ideas- and how hard it can sometimes be to execute them in the face of lack of understanding or comprehension. One can also be seen as a potential threat- when nothing could be further from the truth, as, for us, true value is built through multiple partnerships and adaptive co-operation.
At Awbury, we admire “the crazies”; those who have sufficient self-belief to create new businesses and paradigms, and change whole industries or economic systems. From such behaviour successful partnerships are creating and generating value, and building wealth for many. That is how societies prosper.
The Awbury Team