Ideas the currency of knowledge economy

The IT industry thrives on innovation, and innovation requires ideas. About 400 attendees at SmartNet lunchtime workshops this month heard how to coax and develop ideas, and how to successfully introduce new ideas to the market.

The IT industry thrives on innovation, and innovation requires ideas. About 400 attendees at SmartNet lunchtime workshops this month heard how to coax and develop ideas, and how to successfully introduce new ideas to the market.

Ed Bernacki, author and director of Canadian consultancy The Idea Factory, says ideas are typically responses to problems, opportunities or methods of dealing with change. In the knowledge economy, Bernacki says, ideas create value. “Ideas are in fact the currency of the knowledge economy.”

Bernacki stressed the importance of writing down ideas and giving ideas reasonable thought. Too many ideas are dismissed without being given enough attention, Bernacki says. “We need to start thinking about how to manage our ideas in a much more sophisticated way.”

The most innovative companies are structured to encourage and foster ideas, says Bernacki. Innovation, he says, is like fitness: “Thinking about it does not make it happen.”

Richard Higham, a senior lecturer of the University of Auckland’s business school and lecturer in the University of Otago’s MBA course, focused on the process of bringing an idea successfully to market.

Higham says sales of new products follow an S-curve, which is the “worst possible” model for innovators. They need to minimise the amount of time spent in the unprofitable stages of a product introduction, and to take advantage of the “temporary monopoly” they hold when bringing a product to market.

To do that, Higham says, entrepreneurs need to encourage others to believe in their idea. “An entrepreneurial idea is something which you think will make a lot of money, but everybody else thinks proves you are a basket case,” he says. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to shift their profile from “babbler” to “dynamic lead orchestrator”.

About 400 people attended the SmartNet events in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. The lunchtime presentations were followed by optional workshops.

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