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Five Links in the Idea-Talent Chain

When we see a good idea from its genesis through to successful implementation, we create a chain of events. Everybody has a good idea, but few ideas are ever brought to fruition. So, what chain of events has to happen?

1. Anticipation

Anyone who wants to win in the marketplace must anticipate the next wave and learn how not only to predict the next wave but also to create the next wave. With the intense competition we have now, people depend more upon innovative ideas—ideas that anticipate the next wave, start a trend, or at least ride a wave started by someone else.

For example, Michael Dell reports: "We strive to anticipate key trends in our business to gain a greater share of a faster-growing market. The Internet is one example. We know that virtually everybody will be buying computers over the Internet in five years. We want to dominate that market and have a leadership position in sales of computers through this new distribution channel. We also look aggressively for add-on businesses. We focus on clearly connected businesses and services that our customers want, such as peripherals in software, integration services, and financial services."

2. Articulation

You may have a great idea, but if you can't articulate it and express it well to others, it will never see the light of day. Everyone knows of great products that have failed because the message was not right.

For example, during the past few years, many entrepreneurs failed because they failed to articulate their vision and mission to themselves or to others. They seemed to focus more on having a successful IPO than on building a business. They failed to develop and articulate their plans for success, and they ruthlessly failed their people.

3. Acceptance

After you come up with an idea, you have to make sure that the people who surround the idea will accept it and embrace it and cherish it. You may have the best idea, but if the people you depend on are not cherishing it, it is useless. If everyone in your environment embraces and cherishes the idea, then you can build a successful organization and win customers' hearts.

For example, when Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com, he made sure that all his people cherished the idea of selling books over the Internet for the first time. At the beginning, many people thought, "I'm not going to buy a book without touching it first." But millions of people are now doing it because somebody believed in the idea and led others to accept it and bring it into reality.

4. Action

Even your best ideas may be obsolete within months, not years. So hurry. Fast action is required. If you have a good idea, you need to turn that idea into a good product or good service. You have to take the idea and make something out of it. Taking "action on time" is an important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. With the advent of new technology and the growth of information technology and global competition, to become first you have to act fast. Speed is a vital factor in today's success. New products and new strategies emerge almost daily.

For example, hundreds of dot-com companies around the globe are trying to copy eBay's success on the auction business; virtually none is successful. Chrysler's PT Cruiser and 3M's Palm Pilot are still the leaders in their product lines due to "action on time." Many companies may try to copy them, but none has had similar success. The most important step that successful leaders take is "action on time." It is also the step where most ideas die. Almost everyone has good ideas, but how many are acted upon? Commitment to fast action is the key to success.

Proactive actions characterize market leaders. Michael Dell comments: "We've learned that we can't just follow the other guys. That approach won't create a lot of value. We try to find our own way and do things better. We may borrow good ideas from other companies when we see them, but we're not held to convention—and we're not striving to be like other companies. We're not trying to remake our company or merge with other firms so that we can have a different profile. We are building our own path."

5. Leverage

The fifth link is leverage. Leverage the idea, capture market share, and create wealth. The team who surrounds the individual Talent must leverage the idea into something much bigger. Together they enlarge the scope and scale by leveraging the idea through alliances and other means.

As Michael Dell comments: "We will continue to grow our business. Along with our talented team of employees, we plan to take the company to its full potential—for our customers, shareholders, and employees—for years to come."

Talent drives this chain of events to turn good ideas into reality. The combination of these five links yields the innovative product. Ideas die anywhere on this chain if there is not commitment to the idea.

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