Business development and new ideas

2008

Who has the job of finding new ideas for the purposes of business development? In an ideal world, everyone should look for new ideas as they carry out their assigned tasks.

Seeking better, simpler, faster or cheaper ways to do something should be everyone's business all the time. That includes all the heads of departments and divisions. This is all vital to the search for 'improvement' ideas.

But who looks out for really new ideas that could affect the whole company? Who is assigned the task of seeking such ideas? The research department might have the role of coming up with new product ideas. However, the training of engineers and scientists is not steered towards value creation. Technical achievement and technical excellence do not automatically result in a value product.

Conceptually, value design and traditional R&D must be separated. They are quite different. The two might overlap in the case of particular individuals, but this depends on the individual rather than the structure.

In truth, the majority of organisations do not have anyone whose role it is to consider the possibility of new ideas. I talk about the importance of a 'Concept R&D Department' in one of my books. A department like this would be concerned with value concepts. Needs, opportunities, business development, etc, would be highlighted. The role of the department would be to generate its own ideas or alternatively obtain them from outside sources.

Corporations rely on suppliers. Corporations are not expected to provide all the material they need in-house. Steel is bought by car makers. Electrical fittings and tyres are also bought in from outside the company. So why should ideas be treated any differently?

Ideas rely only on brains for their production, and for that reason there is a belief that having the resource of brains will be sufficient to produce all the ideas that are necessary. However, this is not the case. Creativity and value sensitivity are essential skills and they need to be developed. Of course, some people are better at being creative than others, as with any other skill.

It is important to treat ideas as seriously as finance and raw materials. The need for ideas and their potential value become apparent once they come to be treated seriously, The usual way of just waiting for ideas to happen is none too efficient, and that also becomes apparent. In no other area of business do you just wait for things to happen.

An idea might be more difficult to implement or more costly than first imagined. New ideas have many uncertainties and risks attached to them. There are a lot of ideas that fail. However, in the history of industry and business development, ideas and innovation loom large. Those who came up with the next step forward often become the market leaders.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.