Do Dragons Nurture Ideas or Slaughter Them?

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Imagine you are an entrepreneur

You have a great idea that needs funding, what do you do? Find a venture capitalist or business angel and ask them to invest. The chances are the first one will say no, but if it is a good idea and you ask ten dragons then maybe one will say yes.

Nine no’s to one yes and you are in business

Now imagine you are an intrepreneur

You work in a large company and you have a great idea that needs funding, what do you do? Ask your manager to invest, then ask his manager and then ask the investment committee and the risk committee and the innovation committee. The chances are the first one will say yes, but by the time you have asked ten managers then no doubt one will say no.

Nine yes’s to one no and you are out of luck

Large organisations stifle innovation

Pushing your idea through is hard enough if you are senior. If you work at the bottom of the tree you might as well pack up and go home.

So if you believe your junior staff might have an idea or two (they just might) you have a cultural challenge or two to overcome.

How could you invest in ideas?

  • Allocate seed funding to every manager, not too much, to spend as they like, no questions asked
  • Invest in 20% time (or 10% or 5%) — or even just give it a go
  • Hold an internal dragons den, back a portfolio of projects, see what happens
  • Have a prototype competition with guaranteed funding for the best first stab
  • Redesign your approval process – no project is stopped unless it gets blackballed twice
  • Run a kick-start session, see how many ideas are out there

You don’t have to promote and invest in your staff ideas

They might all be rubbish, they may be hideously risky, but you will never be a real dragon if you are so busy slaughtering ideas that you never have the time to nurture one.

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