Igniting Innovation: Tips, Sparks and Ideas for Acting on Innovation

Innovation Gut Check Or Reality Based?

Posted by David Lafkas on Nov 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Quirky was a crowdsourcing company that has been held up in the past as THE invention crowdsourcing model.  The front page of its website is bold: “Our mission is to make invention accessible.  We believe everyone can be an inventor, and invention can happen anywhere.”

Quirky filed for bankruptcy recently.

Rather than look at potential mismanagement or loss of strategy, I question whether Quirky failed because it never reached its stated mission.

A glance at Quirky’s website of submitted ideas is a wish list of benefits from customers:

  • “Lint Roller Travel Case.  This case helps you avoid getting the lint roller sheets stick to your clothes or other items.”
  • “Bathtub Plunger.  A bath adaption to my Sink Plunger.”
  • “Cure for all.  Genetically engineered white blood cells to cure all ailments.” 

We can scoff at these ideas as being idealistic or just solving non-problems, but is there a faster and better way to determine the viability of ideas? Innovation Gut Check What about doing some quick math?

Performing some quick, “back of the envelope” sorts of numbers can often provide the direction needed on whether to pursue or kill a project.  And these quick numbers will be wrong, but will at least provide orders of magnitude of sales for an idea. 

They also move the idea away from “Gosh darn it, I think this idea is amazing, so everyone else surely will too,” to “is there a real commercial market for this idea?”  And if it is the latter, better to put aside the idea and move on to another idea for possible success.

As a leader, how are you determining the viability of new ideas?  Are you just having a gut reaction, or are you using numbers?

Topics: innovation, Patents, Math

David Lafkas

Written by David Lafkas

David is Eureka! Ranch’s legal eagle, or more traditionally our patent and trademark authority, not only serving as in-house counsel at Eureka! Ranch, but also evangelizing on the importance of patents in today’s world of innovation to stay ahead of your competition. As an Innovation Engineering Black Belt, David has helped numerous companies develop patentable new products and services. Most recently, he’s supported High Liner Foods in Canada and the US on their comprehensive journey to achieve a culture of innovation as they not only create breakthrough seafood ideas, but also broadly educate employees and implement systems driven innovation across the corporation. David received a biomedical engineering degree from the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and his juris doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, the 4th oldest law school in the country. He lives in Cincinnati with his rescue dog, Chauncey.

Welcome to the first blog from the Eureka! Ranch and Innovation Engineering Institute team.  Here you will find a diverse group of innovators dedicated to changing the world by transforming innovation from a random gamble to a reliable system that delivers increased innovation speed and decreased risk.


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