Wouldn’t it be nice if …

Innovation begins with a question that addresses a problem.

It imagines a solution before the tools or materials are in place to build the solution.

When we pitch innovation to buyers, investors, or the general public, it is important to frame it as a solution to their problem, in the words of their experience.

There you are, standing in front of an audience of investors, ready to explain your technology, but instead you ask them a question:  “Wouldn’t it be nice if… [fill in the blank with some problem they face]… could be solved?”

Why is this compelling?  People are generally skeptical that their problems can be solved easily, if at all.  It takes some salesmanship and perhaps some quixotic determination to invite them into an imagined world where that problem is solved.

Here’s Cervantes inviting the prisoners to take in the story of Don Quixote in the musical, Man of La Mancha

Human nature has us hamstrung between the world of actual problems and the world of possible solutions.  We are both prisoners in a cave, and also potential escape artists with a (perhaps not impossible) dream.

Blaise Pascal, when describing the human condition in his Pensees, argued:

Substitute for religion (or non-religion, in the case of John Lennon) any innovative idea and you might still require similar steps to overcome human skepticism:

  1. show that the solution is not contrary to reason
  2. make it attractive to “good” or “appropriate” clients, users, etc.
  3. make clients and potential users wish the solution were real
  4. show that it can be realized
  5. show that it should be realized because it promises a worthwhile “good”

 

To hear Jason Calacanis doing this, check out this podcast episode of “This Week in Startups” (start at minute 16)

 

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