In working to improve innovation capacity in the social sector here in Hartford, I have noticed a troubling phenomenon. While there are a lot of promising ideas out there, most of them never see the light of day. It truly is a rarity for an idea to be vetted and discussed in depth, much less to be tried out and tested.
Perhaps this is not surprising. In order for an idea to be realized a number of unlikely events must occur. First, the person with the idea must think highly enough about the idea to do something with it. This requires self-confidence and perhaps a safe place to share and develop it. This is tough, really tough, and could be a topic for its own conversation.
Then, the idea must be translated into a form that makes it understandable or implementable. I've met many (and I do mean many!) people with ideas that make perfect sense in their heads, but then cannot be communicated or executed in a way that results in success. It's not enough to have a vision, there must be a path to that vision.
Next, an idea must be executed. This is not a linear or straightforward process. Instead, trial and error is the norm. One tactic is tried and succeeds. Another fails. Two steps forward, one back. It takes perseverance to see an idea through. It takes what some might view is a special person to make it happen.
The idea must be successful in meeting its objectives as well. An idea that doesn't meet its goals is, by definition, a failure. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to recognize that the idea has failed, so it is important to identify successes and failures as early as possible. Careful evaluation and good decision making are key.
Finally, the idea must sustain in every way. People must continue to support and execute it. It must continue to succeed in its goals. It must "pay" for itself through some form of funding, revenue, or volunteer support.
Idea incubators like CountMeIn!Hartford are designed to help. Starting with a belief that anyone can be a change-maker, the incubator places the ideapreneur at the center. The incubator provides the structure, the safe place, the access to resources, and the support to ensure that the ideapreneur has every chance at success. It is through this intentional focus on supporting the ideapreneur that great ideas will flourish and perhaps change the world.