Do You Have What It takes To Recognize ‘Big Idea’ Moments?

Don’t let these ideas pass by like a ship in the night: Using Identification, Vision, and Motivation to follow your Big Idea dreams

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Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
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The first tablet PC by HP, circa 2002
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The original iPhone by Apple, circa 2007
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Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

What if I had been able to recognize the opportunity right there in front of me?

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Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

The Identification of a Big Idea

How does one identify a Big Idea? Obviously, 18 years ago I did not have any clue how to achieve this objective. If wisdom is the accumulated body of knowledge that one builds up over time I am theoretically wiser while writing this than at any point in my life up to this point. Wisdom suggests that we start with a definition of a Big Idea:

An idea is “big” if it helps us make sense of lots of confusing experiences and seemingly isolated facts. It’s like the picture that connects the dots or a simple rule of thumb in a complex field… A big idea is thus a way of seeing better and working smarter, not just a vague notion or another piece of knowledge… If an idea is “big” it helps us make sense of things. So, an idea is not “big” merely because it categorizes a lot of content.

Grant Wiggins from the article “What is a Big Idea?

  • a smarter way of doing things: remember there were no smartphones in 2001, so the only recourse here was to use a paper map or go in each building and ask someone
  • new product that hasn’t been made before: to the best of my knowledge I was not aware of any products like this that were readily available at the time
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Photo by Marius Ciocirlan on Unsplash

A Vision To Turn A Big Idea Into A Big Business

At this point most humans are familiar with the story of garage startups. Hewlitt Packard, Disney, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all examples of Big Ideas that started in a garage and grew to massive, world-spanning businesses both in terms of products, money, and ideas. Whether it is luck, chance, or some incredibly skillful people, these are the biggest and brightest examples of Big Ideas gone supernova.

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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

While some adherents claim that the lean process can make individual start-ups more successful, I believe that claim is too grandiose. Success is predicated on too many factors for one methodology to guarantee that any single start-up will be a winner. But on the basis of what I’ve seen at hundreds of start-ups, at programs that teach lean principles, and at established companies that practice them, I can make a more important claim: Using lean methods across a portfolio of start-ups will result in fewer failures than using traditional methods.

Steve Blank from the article Why The Lean Start-Up Changes Everything

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Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Finding Motivation To Actually Execute On A Big Idea

The impetus to begin and then keep the ball rolling once started is one of the hardest challenges to overcome for a Big Idea. Coming up with a Big Idea is actually the easiest part of the whole thing. Building a Vision to support turning that into a Big Business is harder, but just getting off the couch and doing something is the hardest action to take. This key element is why so many people can talk about their big ideas but very few actually step up and do anything about them. While timing, circumstance, opportunity, and luck all play a part, the real fuel that drives a startup is the passion, drive, and motivation of the person or people grinding and fighting every day to make that dream a reality.

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Photo by Tyler B on Unsplash

The reality is that there is no path.

Have you ever driven cross country? If you ever get a chance to just drive for hours just watch out the window while driving at the landscape around the vehicle, the geographical area doesn’t matter. Take a moment and consider how you would traverse all of that distance if there were no roads, no paths showing you the way. Are there hills or mountains in the way? Are there streams or lakes or rivers to navigate over or around? Are you crossing bridges that in a few seconds get you over ravines or gorges that would take hours to climb down and then back up the other side? This is a much better scenario to describe a start up. Even if you are lucky enough to have a piece of paper with a map on it at best you might have some landmarks to follow from that map. But still, there is no path. This is why people following the Lean Startup methodologies have more tools at their disposal. These are the people that come prepared with not only a map, but things like a compass and a hiking stick. Yet many of these people still fail.

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Photo by Valdemaras D. on Unsplash

It is possible that solving the problem of how to light your own internal fire is the key to launching a Big Idea…

However, once you figure out what drives you to take on the challenge of a Big Idea, you need solid habits and goals to keep things moving. While Apple is one of the classic garage startups, the company also shows how the drive of one individual can make or break a company. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak came together in 1976 to start Apple Computers. These two were the main drivers behind the early success for the company and led it until 1985 when they both ended up leaving what had turned from a Big Idea into a Big Business. The leadership in place kept going but over time started struggling and this resulted in Steve Jobs re-joining Apple in 1997 and leading the company into building a second Big Idea in the first iPhone. Without Jobs and his Vision, the company struggled to continue to grow.

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Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

Written by

Engineer. Manager. Husband. Father. Wanna-be Writer. Editor-In-Chief & Grand Poobah of www.kevinwanke.com

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