Doug Norton, Industrial Designer
When someone has an idea for a product, they may dwell on it for weeks, maybe even years. When does the vision for the product become an obsession and how can you tell the difference? I watch the Dragon’s Den, a popular show where inventors and entrepreneurs show their stuff to investors with deep pockets. Sometimes you see an idea who’s time has past, yet the dream of success, and the vision of that product is so seductive for the inventor that they can’t seem to hear what everyone is telling them. The idea has no legs, there are too many competitors, the design is flawed or whatever the negative feedback is.
Most times I agree with the Dragons, but occasionally I disagree. They don’t really care what I think, and why should they, its their money and their show. Still sometimes I see what is presented is really visionary, and the person promoting it is visionary as well. That in spite of the tide flowing against them.
Yet for other, the obsession has drained the family coffers, used up some financial support and goodwill of friends, and perhaps racked up a debt that will not soon be repaid, and never forgotten. Is this a foible of humanity that some people become so locked into a way of thinking that no amount of logic, nor scorn will convince them of the error they are making? I think that is the case.
Some people become so invested in an idea, and so afraid of admitting such a huge lapse in judgment that admitting the idea was deficient and loosing face is worse than carrying on. Everyone else is wrong. The terrible fact is that in some cases that is true, every one is wrong. But in those cases, the person defending the idea had some very rational reason for thinking that everyone else was wrong. More than I just think so, or instinct tells me so, or I just know that I am right.
Look at the idea objectively as possible. Think about how others see it, think about concrete reasons that the idea is right. Think about the chances of making the idea work. If you don’t have the resources to make the idea work, then it is a moot point whether you are right on not. For example, Babbage was right about computers, he build one to prove it, but didn’t have the right resources to actually make it work. The mechanical technology of the day didn’t support such a complicated and precise construction, so it became Babage’s folly.
The IPod became a huge success because Apple we a very successful marketing company, and could take a good idea, and deliver it into the market place in an effective way. Many good ideas run out of steam because they don’t make it to market successfully.
So the point of this blog is, don’t let an idea, even a good one become an obsession.