“The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and an actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”
– Robert G. Schwartz, Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Mr. Schwartz has one of the most impressive vita’s I have ever read. It is 29 pages long and full of awards, grants and chronicles of distinguished service. So my commentary is not meant to disparage the fine work of Mr. Schwartz in any way, but only to share my reality, which differs from this famous quote of Robert G. Schwartz.
While I share his enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and other creative ventures, in my own experience, I have rarely seen exactly how to make what I first visualize happen in as direct a way as his quote says. Once engaged in the process described below, I do experience the clarity of the vision increasing at the same time as the ways of implementing it gradually reveal themselves. It is the farthest thing from being exact.
What follows is a path to follow for working with new ideas, from the first flash to full implementation. In doing so, I am describing my entrepreneurial process as an example for what may work for you as well.
1. The Inspirational Flash. It all starts by first getting a flash of something new. As you first visualize the idea, notice that while it usually isn’t all that clear in your mind, it might be quite interesting.
2. Theme & Variations of the Inspirational Flash. So play with it in your mind by running it through as many variations as you can think of in a rather rapid way. As you do so, you may notice that the whole thing increases in clarity. The original idea may also transmute into another idea that has more possibilities or appeal. Additional ideas, having to do with implementation, will begin to congregate around the original idea.
3. Capture It! Capture as much of the idea and its connecting ides as you can by writing the whole thing down, or if that isn’t possible, dictate the idea by calling yourself and leaving a voicemail or text message. The act of riting or speaking may bring out even more variations and implementation strategies. Note: You might cut off the flow of ideas if you move too quickly into a critical thinking mode and engage in judging the idea or getting too caught up trying to solve the obstacles for the idea’s implementation. Save this kind of thinking for step 6.
4. Do something, Most Anything. In addition to capturing the idea that anchors it into the physical world. You might do some Internet searching around the idea, making notes of your findings, you could sketch out a strategy for carrying it forward or even build some very preliminary representation of it, such as a model or a piece of written communication that you could later share with colleagues.
5. Get Some Feedback. If possible, initially try to get feedback that might support the idea based on a potential market for it if the obstacles to its implementation and acceptance could be overcome. Then be sure to illicit more critical feedback so you can discover the difficulties involved and develop additional ideas that might overcome those challenges.
6. Add Your Own Critical Thinking Into the Mix. At this stage, it now makes sense to challenge the idea, and its worthiness in terms of the cost to proceed in dollars, time and resources vs. the benefits you might potentially reap.
7. Pilot or Prototype It. Assuming you haven’t dropped the idea after the critical analysis, do something that further tests the idea in terms of implementation. What can you do on a very small scale to test the merits of the idea in the real world? Do this and you will know if it makes sense to proceed and you will have the real world feedback needed to continue moving the idea forward towards full implementation. And may the wind be at your back!
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