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  • Innovate, Disrupt, Commercialize – Not Necessarily in that Order

    Review photo from ShutterstockThere isn’t much new under the sun. However, there are a lot of things that haven’t been commercialized effectively.

    What? You might be thinking there are countless things that have yet to be discovered and developed. And I completely agree. In fields ranging from Agri-Business to Robotics to Zero Gravity research there are many, many things yet to be discovered and developed.

    However, the point of this article is to get you thinking about the here and now. To get you thinking about ways to Innovate, Disrupt or Commercialize something that already exists. Or almost already exists. This is where you come in.

    Will there be more innovations in various industries and markets? Absolutely.

    The point of this post is to let you know you DON’T have to innovate from scratch. You DON’T have to create the next whiz-bang thing that will turn the world upside down. You can extend from what others have done. You can ride the coattails of your predecessors (with proper attribution and credit – see Do’s and Don’ts below). You DON’T need to always be thinking… my next one will be a hit.

    Your mission… should you choose to accept it is: To look for something that can use a little attention today to extend or enhance it with Innovation, Disruption and Commercialization.

    If you have happen to have an idea that can be that next whiz-bang thing then by all means Innovate, Disrupt and Commercialize to your hearts content.

    Getting Started

    It might sound simple and cliché, but all you really need to do is look around and find something that hits your 3 A’s – something that Amazes, Annoys or Amuses you.

    Perhaps all three. If something is truly amazing and you think you can commercialize it more effectively or otherwise add a tweak to make it even more amazing or more marketable… by all means… do it! If something is bothering you and you think it’s probably bothering others… and they’d be willing to pay to make that pain go away… by all means … explore it and commercialize it. If you find something funny perhaps others will too. And, they might even pay you for the smiles.

    Pet Rock’s sold by the thousands in the 70’s. It made people smile and they shelled out their dollars for those smiles.

    This might seem to be a bit over-simplified, but I’m convinced it’s this kind of thinking that will help you to Innovate, Disrupt and Commercialize:

    • Find a niche
    • Stand on the Shoulders of Giants – Many others have had similar ideas. They may not have thought of your unique market angle.
    • Commercialize the heck out of it

    There are countless examples of businesses being disrupted. If you go back to some of the original “disruptors” in relatively modern times you can look to Johannes Gutenberg and his invention of the moveable type printing press. Or perhaps a better way to say it is his perfection of a printing process that allowed for the mechanical duplication of printed materials. Others had tried and gotten various elements correct. Gutenberg figured out how to put all the pieces together in a predictable and repeatable manner. That is to say… he was able to commercialize the printing press.

    More Modern Examples

    • Dell Computer – Back in the days Michael Dell started selling Personal Computers out of his dorm room, under the name “PC’s Limited” he did it without the overhead of the then standard storefront. Later Dell pioneered the successful sales of PC’s over the internet.
    • FedEx – Fred Smith was scoffed at for his idea to deliver packages overnight. Obviously, businesses were willing to pay big bucks to get their packages delivered “absolutely, positively overnight.” Eventually FedEx realized they are really in the logistics business.
    • Uber, Lyft and ZipCar – Two of these companies are disrupting the Taxi and Livery service model. One is tweaking the idea of what it means to “own” a car.
    • DocuSign & CoSign – These companies have been revolutionizing the way we sign documents. If you have ever purchased a house or signed a lease you know how tedious it can be to sign or initial page after page of an agreement. These companies have made it as easy as a click to affix your signature or initials to the same documents. And, they have made it so each step and each signatory can be notified, alerted and tracked at any step in the process.

    So what?

    Each of these ideas were an extension of something that was already being done… just in a different way. They saw a different way to Innovate, Disrupt and Commercialize. Some have proven themselves to be successful. That was not a forgone conclusion when they started. In the case of Dell and FedEx they have had to continue to Innovate, Disrupt and Commercialize their businesses. Dell has revamped their business models a few times in the past 20+ years. FedEx has added line extensions and has realized success by helping businesses add operational efficiencies. For the others they are in many senses still a work in progress. The ground is shifting under their feet. Some parts of their business will morph. Others will die off. That’s part of the Innovation, Disruption and Commercialization cycle. Get used to it.

    A few Do’s and Dont’s to help you move along in an ethical fashion:

    • Don’t steal Intellectual Property (IP).
    • Do seek to protect your IP. If you have created something new or in the line of thinking of this post if you have come up with a new way to Innovate, Disrupt or Commercialize something by all means seek to protect your IP.
    • Don’t blindly assume you know what someone else is thinking, doing, and planning.
    • Do ask for permission. If in doubt… ask! You never know what you might get.
    • Don’t speak ill of the competition. Everyone has competitors. Putting them down makes you look worse.
    • Do seek to form alliances. Your competition today could be your business partner tomorrow.

    By doing these consistently and with predictable and repeatable model of engagement and execution you will stand out in your career. Your reputation will rise to meet your accomplishments and you will be sought after for your abilities to see angles of engagement that others have missed. Like a lot of things the Innovation, Disruption and Commercialization process takes practice and is a bit of a numbers game. You have to try a lot of things before you find something that resonates. The best time to start was 5 years ago. The next best time is now.

    What will you Innovate, Disrupt and Commercialize?

    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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