"Search engine cannot make any money"

Some of my best friends complaint that my blog was over technical for them. With customer-oriented spirit and inspired by Socct Berkun's the Myths of Innovation, I composed this eye-catching-titled post talking about how to innovate and influence people to adopt your ideas. J

Our world becomes as it is today pretty much because many innovative people influence the whole world by invent things such as telephone, airplane, energy and internet in which way you read this post. But what are similarities they share besides smart, hardworking, etc?

  • Question asker – Why is it working that way? How to solve this problem? What are concerning customers?

  • Don’t follow the rules – Don’t do things as told. Not always be student.

  • Outsider – Take the road less taken. Do things that no one else things of. (不走寻常路,in Chinese). Think from origin.

There were many ideas in people’s mind, but few of them became real innovation. So what is the flow of turning ideas into innovations? Typically the flow would be:

Idea -> Pitch -> Proof of concept -> Prototypes -> Plan -> Acceptance of risk -> Commitment -> Execution -> Innovation!

This flow almost works for everybody. You can be in normal corporations where you report to your manager, or you are genius college student gaining certain cool ideas.

Woo-hoo, it is a great flow, man. But wait a minute,

  • Where do ideas come from? – I feel like it may come from two ways. simple post-it innovation1) You can observe one problem and go back to your house do your homework, finally find out the solution. We can list many supportive examples such as light bulb by Thomas Edison. 2) People may run into something unique, and then start seeking for applying field reversely. For example, low tack adhesive makes post-it possible. So the point here is to observe anything around us and to keep asking questions such as “how to make this better?”, “Is that possible?”, etc. And ideas are not necessarily as big as changing the whole industry, they can be extremely simple but solve problems in graceful way. Also, combination of ideas may also lead to cool ideas. For example, YouTube + HotOrNot = video version of HotOrNot.

  • Why pitch matters? – Pitch here means convincing somebody, your friends, colleagues, spouse or your managers. This is the first skill you need to have, definitely. This can help you dogfood your ideas among ordinary people to see whether it really meets customers’ needs. Another reason to pitch is that you need their support (sometimes financially) before you go any further. Often you have to answer questions such as “who are your customers?” “how much money can you make/save” just like a mini B-plan. Sometimes pitching comes after POC/prototyping, that is true.

  • “I am too busy to have time for proof of concept/prototypes…” - Then you won’t be an innovator. It is simple. We are sleeping 1/3 of our time. Everybody have to meet his/her job commitments another 1/3 time per day. But what he does in remaining time sharps what his life would be in longer term. You would be more luck if your cooperation encourages you invest ~10% of working time to pet project. J I assume you know the importance of prototyping, so you have to do experiments to further prove your ideas.

  • From “plan” down to “execution”, looks pretty familiar… - Actually maybe not. Mistakes can be made. But so what? At least we know this way does not work with these people this time at this place.

  • What comes after innovation?  - Commodification! Sell it out to your manager or even to the general public. The more, the better. At that time, everything else(e.g., $$$) will follow you automatically.

Stay hungry, stay foolish. If somebody with powerful looking tells you something like “search engine cannot make any money”, think about why and try other possibilities instead of immediate drop.

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