An old saying about digitalisation echoes in corridors, ‘An idea is worth nothing’. It revolves in my thoughts over a cup of coffee.
Why is it so difficult to create new digital services or solutions that become businesses that can be taken seriously?
What happens along the way?
A good idea seems like the ideal starting point for creating a new digital solution or service. Yet even successful firms have pushed and discarded dozens of ideas without making a breakthrough.
Despite the most polished user-experience design or world-class visualisation, a good idea doesn’t always make it to the first release, let alone become a beneficial end-user service. Markets might turn away for any reason, leaving the company with just another learning experience.
Why do so few ecosystems manage to successfully implement their ideas? For those that do succeed, is it a question of pure luck?
Trust: a driving force
At best, ideas can be taken forward in a business ecosystem that comprises several internal and external actors with common goals. The word trust comes to mind. To me it involves the concept of a shared understanding, vision and big picture perspective.
Without transparent discussions with our fellow travellers, secondary matters could take precedence for different reasons. In this way, an ecosystem might slow down, and its expectation of success might decrease considerably. Challenge turns into defence and ideas become currency.
An environment of trust boldly combined with different skill sets and views becomes the lifeblood of challenge. It’s required to accelerate an ecosystem’s vital functions to full speed.
At this point, it was time to sip my coffee and organise my observations about an ecosystem’s strengths.
- Problems are good for business
Why is it that some services or solutions don’t already exist? Ideas are rarely completely new. My brain is flooded with problems that challenge ecosystems and preclude solutions.
An idea should develop into a concept – we must understand the business, define the operational processes and link technologies to them. It is also important to understand end users’ thoughts, feelings and actions, and to possess a vision of how they can be changed.
Solving these problems is not easy but it makes a service hard to copy and ensures competitiveness further into the future. A single individual can rarely do this. Answers can be found in a shared understanding and in a team’s diversity: this gives it power.
- Trust, transparency and stability
These three elements sustain an ecosystem. Trust and transparency are based on shared learning which is equally dependent on stability. People cannot come and go as the journey progresses. Only a stable team can move forward without disruption, develop its worldview towards a vision and commit itself to the idea.
- Vision distortion is natural
A large ecosystem brings with it powers that cause vision distortion. In a world of opinions, it is difficult to avoid diversions. Joint decisions should be made along the way, guided by experience, learning or trends, but they should always be rooted in your vision.
For example, if we were to interfere in the artistic vision of a film as much as we do in digital services, the result would hardly be a lasting success. However, at the level of every scene, the story could and should be honed to perfection so that the pieces form a coherent whole.
- Change demands courage
Neither the world nor business can change without, in turn, changing something else. To write in a Newtonian vein, ‘thought aspires to return to its existing conception’. Naturally, decisions should be made close to the collective understanding and in a timely manner: they cannot be dictated from the outside. It is important to understand what is most essential now and what will be vital six months from now.
After my reflections, my steps took me toward my own team. We were talking about this theme when we received a call from a customer. We began to discuss whether we acted according to market expectations during a customer project or whether we are challenging end users as well as other stakeholders in the business with a new and improved model. This requires belief in oneself: you cannot achieve anything new without sometimes swimming against the current.