Graham Edwards in Directors and Executives, Entrepreneurs, Marketing Consulting Principal • GPEStratagem Oct 11, 2016 · 2 min read · 1.2K

Ideas, prototypes and Murphy's Law...

To this day I remember a "moment" between a sales professional and a hardened General Manager (hGM)... it went something like this  

Sales Professional: "I think we need to do this... I would do it this way... It would be great for the company and I know people who could help us get it done."

hGM: "Great idea... You have my support to do it. Let me know if you need anything."

Sales Professional: "Really? Great... I'm going to do it."

There was some more enthusiastic discussion about the idea and then the sales professional moved off to another discussion.

Ideas, prototypes and Murphy's Law...hGM: "He will never do it you know"

I looked at the hardened General Manager and sipped my wine. He was right, the sales professional never did what he was so enthusiastic about. His idea never happened... either because he had no intention to do more than talk about it (as the hGM surmised) or maybe, he simply didn't know how to bring it to life. 

An idea, in the end, is just "cocktail conversation with a hGM" until you are able to bring action or tangibility to it, and make it physically real. 

So what does it take to bring an idea to life? 

A Time and Event Schedule To Make IT Happen (TESTMITH)This is a detailed calendar of events broken into weekly blocks that outline all the activities needed to progressively build your idea and make something tangible with it. It usually starts with a completion date in mind and then works backwards identifying all the activities needed to develop something real. The order of these activities need to be reviewed because some activities build upon others, and so on... my experience is bringing ideas to life is an iterative process. 

There is an important mechanism that comes with the TESTMITH - A weekly review, as well as creating a simple dashboard using GREEN for complete, YELLOW for in progress and RED for not started. This makes it easy to map your progress, communicate and identify future roadblocks (plus it's very colourful).

Build a Prototype: Prototypes are exciting for a number of reasons!

  • Your idea is now real... you can touch it, you can see it, and more importantly, so can others. 
  • You have insight into what is needed to build it, the challenges, and what you will need to build more (aspects of scale up).
  • You now have the first iteration that all other improved versions will be build from.  
  • They help show progress... sometimes a prototype is needed for the next activity in your TESTMITH (See above).

Resources: Approach all of this with the assumption that resources are slim; more often than not it will be you, and if lucky, a few trusted individuals to make it happen. And you will have you roll up your own sleeves because  there is not much opportunity to delegate here... people and processes are not used to making small quantities or "one offs". 

More often than not you will have to be creative with material and the resources needed to "build it or make it happen". It is even tougher when money is in short supply -  Creativity, inventiveness and resourcefulness come in handy.

And this brings it us to Murphy's law, which states, and I quote, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." 

No matter how well you have planned, reviewed and set controls, something inevitably comes along and throws a wrench in your plans. 

Just imagine working on 20 prototype kits, where each prototype has over 50 pieces and each needs a label... now imagine, spending a day hand labelling all those pieces just to come back the following day to find a majority of the labels were peeling away. Five days later, more labelling and testing, it turns out the room was much too dry to let the glue on the label cure properly. 

Who would have thought? I sure hadn't when I started.  

Business literature is filled with characteristics of the human condition that help us deal with Murphy's Law and make our ideas real - Persistence, resilience, courage, conviction, determination, belief, sacrifice, etc. It is here that all ideas become real, and everything else is just "process".

So when Murphy's law strikes and the labels fall off, dig deep into the human condition.


Graham Edwards 1 d ago · #15

#14 Will do !

Phil Friedman 1 d ago · #14

#12 Graham, I'd like to invite you to share this post into the BUSINESS HUB hive, which is topic filtered for business ideas and opinions from real-world business people. @Renée Cormier kindly brought this post to my attention, and it is clearly one that we would like to have in the hive, but we allow only the original author to share it. This is because we want him or her to be aware of its appearance and be available for interaction with BUSINESS HUB members. Our beBee address is: Looking forward to it, and to seeing much more of your work. Cheers! CC; @Randy Keho, Business Hub Co-administrator.

Renée Cormier 4 d ago · #13

#10 You can always send me links to your posts so I don't miss any. That's how I keep you in the loop, Buddy! :)

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Graham Edwards 4 d ago · #12

#8 Thanks for the comment @Randy Keho... this is a great story about how you ultimately have to deal in the real world to make things work! Good Luck with the negotiations.

Graham Edwards 4 d ago · #11

#3 Thanks for the comment @Kevin Pashuk... you must have some very interesting projects going on there.

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Graham Edwards 4 d ago · #10

#2 You mean you aren't reading everything I post @Renée Cormier.... : (

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Graham Edwards 4 d ago · #9

#1 Thanks for the comment @Harvey Lloyd. Glad I could help. Let us know if you need a sounding board as you develop out your ideas, particularly on the execution side.

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Randy Keho 4 d ago · #8

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my young, tech-savvy partner. He came up with a revolutionary concept and created a 3-D prototype of the product. After that, he was lost. That's when he came to me. He couldn't break free from the constraints of his cyber world. I told him he would have to get up from his computer, walk to the door, and take a peek outside. That's where the real world exists.
I took him to a local, upscale establishment featuring a wide assortment of IPA beverages. His product could revolutionize the beverage-dispensing industry. I struck up a conversation with a sales and marketing rep, who was there because his products were being featured that evening. I showed him a photo on my phone of the 3-D prototype. He excitedly gave me the name of a guy he knew at a beverage-dispensing company. We met and he requested that we send a copy of the prototype to his research and development department at their corporate offices. Once it arrived, they called me everyday for a week, requesting further information.
Negotiations are ongoing, although we've recently entered into negotiations with a rival company to, hopefully, move things along. It's slow-going, but companies don't invest in or outright purchase potential products without careful review. So, I guess we could be awaiting Murphy's Law to strike. We'll see.

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