Prototype and Get the First Follower!


The first, or “zero phase,” of the innovation process is to convince the very first person to step behind your idea. The ideal candidate could be: a colleague, a superior or an investor. Ideally you want to find someone in the organization who can fund your idea, or help you find a way to fund it. This will give your idea a push. There may be a need for fine-tuning the rationale and ironing out the technical details to get it through the various stages of the process.

When presenting your idea make sure that the most important (and often innovative) feature of the idea must be concise and summarized in a few sentences that include: explanation, benefits and possible customers.

A few pointers…

  • Do not speak about your idea, before you have fully thought it through.
  • Your idea has to have a path tothe market – if not it cannot be “sold” to anyone then you are wasting your time and the time of any potential partners.
  • Explain your idea in the easiest way possible – try to avoid technical phrases and long explanations. Your idea should be understandable to those without the specific knowledge that you may have of a particular field.
  • Make sure to detail the first steps to get your idea moving. Do not leave that for someone else to figure out. (It is YOUR idea after all!)

If it’s possible, try to prototype the idea. While this makes sense only in a case if it’s cheap and fast to make, the benefits are incredible. Only key features of the product should be in the prototype as it should be simple and understandable. (The prototype could even be a PowerPoint Presentation!)

Also, sometimes it makes sense to make two separate prototypes and see which one is more attractive and effective. If the prototype and presentation are properly communicated to the right audience they may be all you need to get the support of the first follower. In the case of organizations with a clear innovation process it may be easier to get the first supporter.

That’s because ideas go through an established process of evaluation and proper screening.
Keep in mind that sometimes you may get a negative response and rejection, but that could be impetus for an improved product and a stronger next attempt. If your idea survives a first screening all input can be incorporated into the next prototype.

So get your presentation and prototype down, and get that first person behind you!

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