How to Get Your Ideas Adopted

The day before I wrote this review, I read an article about James Dyson's latest product. Not content with developing the wheelbarrow-with-a-globe-shaped-wheel and the bagless vacuum cleaner, he has apparently developed a bladeless fan.

Most of us would agree that Dyson is a marvellous inventor. He is, however, more than that. What truly sets him apart is surely his ability to realise his inventions - that is, to convert ideas into things we can use. In other words, he is a great innovator.

It is on the gap between invention and innovation - and on how to move from one to another - that the book under review focuses. Though the author is highly inventive herself Anne Miller has over three-dozen patents to her name this is not (I am somewhat relieved to report) yet another book on how to have great ideas. It is instead that much rarer thing, a guide to how to do something or get something done with your ideas once you've had them.

The great strength of How To Get Your Ideas Adopted is that it is designed to help wannabe innovators anticipate the types of resistance that new ideas encounter and the obstacles that can prevent their development into successful products or services.

Miller shows, in effect, how the process of innovation is like a board game in which a large number of squares say things like 'miss a go' or 'go back three spaces'. Her guide will help players avoid those squares and to land instead on those that read 'take another turn'.

According to Miller, the adoption of a creative idea typically runs through four stages. First, 'blindness': people seem wilfully to avoid seeing the idea at all. Next comes the 'frozen' stage: people find excuses for not actually responding to the idea; only when we get to the third (i.e. 'interested') stage do people genuinely start to explore and engage with the new idea; after which, finally, we may reach the stage where people are ready to integrate the idea into their work. For each stage the author presents the reader with ways to hasten adoption.

We all know there are too many business books, many of them glibly written and loosely argued. This isn't one of those. It is a serious-minded, informed, constructive guide to an issue of real importance.

Anthony Haynes is Creative Director of The Professional and Higher Partnership Ltd