I want to start with stating a simple and profound poem by Shel Siverstein,
I’ve done it, I’ve done it!
Guess what I’ve done!
Invented a light that plugs into the sun.
The sun is bright enough,
The bulb is strong enough,
But, oh, there’s only one thing wrong…
That cord ain’t long enough.
This poem articulates the way people think about working on their ideas without focusing on the key element that will facilitate the complete system. I am fortunate enough to take my Innovation Class under Prof. Max Shtein , who has written this book Scalable Innovation at University of Michigan. This book clearly demonstrates how ideas can be articulated into a systematic framework that will lead to an innovation. There are two types of Entrepreneurs in the world: Inventors and Innovators, and the second ones are generally the ones who foresee a problem, get into the customer’s mindset and design the product that will solve the particular need. From the poem, we understand that there is a missing cord when Inventors work on a problem, and innovators are the ones who fill that missing cord to create a customer-centric solution. From all we know, it takes 3000 ideas to have one success. But not all of us are bestowed with 3000 different ideas in our life, maybe it’s too late, too early or too complicated to pursue.
The key for entrepreneurs today is to fit into one idea and see it in terms of System design framework that has five simple elements: Source, Distribution, Packaged Payloads, Control and Tool. In his book, Prof. Shtein has worked on an underlying premise that the economy is built where goods and services are exchanged. This exchange involves three basic flow parameters: Mass, Energy and/or Information. These parameters have to be originated somewhere say Source and is used or transformed somewhere say Tool. The parameter has to flow in a path comprising space and time, lets say Distribution and to be able to reliably process these parameters, they are packaged appropriately say Packaged Payloads and the Control element to ensure a robust, interactive and a sustainable mechanism between these elements. This is the System Design Framework and a system can be a part of other system to create a network effect that generates a multitude of solutions in the existing technology and create a solution for a new one.
Ultimately, to build a better world is all about finding that ‘missing cord’ and the Innovators are the ones who achieve that earnestly through series of iterations, experiments, research, patents or getting the elements together.