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shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi

Managing the political component of innovation

Having an idea is often a painful and frustrating experience. The people who don’t turn away from you often ignore you; it can be hard to tell which is worse. I didn’t really understand why people reject ideas until I was on the front lines of a technology company collapse. It was a company that was full of great ideas and drive: the things that should bring success. But it invested heavily in great ideas that didn’t pan out, and doesn’t exist today.

The post-innovation world is a place you’ve never been to before

When you come up with an idea that is new, you’ve got something that will change reality in some way. If the idea is powerful enough, it’s going to take you to a place that you’ve never been to before. If you’re going to manage the political implications of the newness, then you have to think about the different kinds of people that there are in your social landscape, and how they react to new ideas. You want the right kind of attention at the right time. Because the changed landscape that your idea will create has dangers, and you won’t know what they are to begin with.

Have an idea

Ideas are great.

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shutterstock/Olga1818

Testing

Most ideas don’t work. Your idea probably won’t work.

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shutterstock/Volodimir Zozulinskyi

Exploration

Yay! You built the thing! Well done! Now build it again.

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shutterstock/Anastasiya Yatchenko

Pioneers will learn, but mainly they will teach you

Your idea works. You can reliably reproduce it, and you know when you will succeed and when you will fail. Now it’s time to face the danger that is other people. Grab a few adventurous souls who are not afraid to fail, and get ready to discover all the things you should have told them.

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Shutterstock/Stephen Rees

Bring on the settlers!

And now for the moment you’ve been desperate for since the beginning. It’s time to tell as many people as possible about how awesome your idea is, and the wonders and delights that await them when they join you in the majestic future.

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shutterstock/Venediktov Vladimir

Consolidate after settling

Up until this point, you’ve been getting things wrong a lot. Your idea wasn’t quite right. Then your methods weren’t right. Then you didn’t know how to explain it. Then you didn’t know how to explain it to a large group. But once you hit consolidation, you’re getting things right and explaining things right, and you know how to explain it before you have any idea about who you’re dealing with. That’s the point where you’re ready to write it down as a set of rules.

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shutterstock/Veronika Surovtseva

Refinement is innovation

The reason you write it down is so that you can look at it clearly. The value in looking at it clearly is that this will help you (and others) to come up with ideas. When people come up with ideas and they don’t have a reality to refer to, they tend to get scared, and to imagine all the ways in which the new possibilities will hurt them. (Pioneers are like stunt performers in this regard: they have a tolerance for injury that sets them apart from most people.)

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shutterstock/pathdoc

Written by

Nick Argall is an organization engineer, structuring activities to help businesses achieve their goals. nargall@gmail.com

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