How to Breed an Innovative Business Idea — #6 of 31 Proven Skills [Research]
An enlightened view of all resources that exist and the latent value that can be innovatively released from them is a mindset that greatly facilitates personal idea generation. Seeing everything — even waste — as an undervalued resource shapes the required thinking. If all resources around us contain residual value that can be tapped without being re-created, innovative results suddenly become much more achievable
Everything that is created is usually brought into existence for a purpose, to deliver some sort of value to the person or entity that created it. And, for the value to be enjoyed, that thing must be utilized by someone or something else. This is obvious enough. However — and this is important, but usually overlooked – there is always some value left over that is not utilized.
Only if something is used totally, that is:
· at the right time
· for the right time
· in the right place
· at the right rate, and
· for all potential uses
– in other words, is utilized perfectly, is all the inherent value exhausted.
As such perfection does not exist, there is always residual value that can be innovatively retrieved.
Finally, and pleasingly, because there is unused value residing in any particular resource in the first place — effort that has been previously invested and that does not need to be replicated for that leftover value to be enjoyed — innovative value is lying there, just waiting for you to use it for something else.
Now, let’s test that assertion. If it is true and everything that exists contains some latent value, surely even objects that have been discarded as ‘waste’ must be undervalued resources?
Waste Not, Want Not
The term “waste” does not have favorable connotations. It is very natural to think of waste as having no residual value. In fact, we probably would consider waste not as a resource, but as a non-resource. However, in reality, waste can be a valuable resource through which you can innovate. Calling it a resource prompts the required mindset of Skill #6: Assume that All Resources — even Waste — Contain Innovative Potential.
In May 1940, the World War II situation was a very depressing one for the Allies who had been driven back onto the beaches of Dunkirk. Several hundred thousand British and French soldiers were trapped there and facing annihilation unless they could be rescued. While not as worrying as the potential waste of life, many thousands of items of military equipment would definitely be ‘wasted’ because they would have to be abandoned.
In a stunning example of how even waste can be used to innovate, trucks that were to be left behind proved to be of value well beyond the original intent when they were first shipped to France. With large-scale evacuation looking to be impossible in the time available due to incessant bombing and the lack of workable jetty facilities, the British troops drove trucks deeper and deeper into the surf, parking them alongside each other creating an additional pier as shown in the opening photo. This greatly sped up the loading of multiple small boats that were now able to come alongside. In an operation often referred to as “miraculous” in historical records, 338,000 soldiers were evacuated.
Although ostensibly of no value at all, the detritus of abandoned trucks proved to be a source of innovation that was literally lifesaving. A study I have completed of thousands of successful business ideas demonstrates that adopting a more generous view of what already exists is essential to regular innovating. The principle is one of 31 proven skills that you can employ to guide your innovative exploits.
Contemporary Examples of Innovative Ideas from ‘Waste’ Resources
A common situation in farming is that after the target crop is harvested, what remains needs to be removed or is just left to decompose. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. Although the white fiber of a banana tree is usually left to decompose, by taking a more expansive view of what remains, an agricultural developer has turned it into something of saleable value. The white fiber remaining is accessed and converted into a base material for various paper and wood-type products.
Similarly, the food manufacturer Nestle, in seeking to tackle the problem of some of its farmer suppliers struggling with unreliable and sometimes meager earnings, processes cocoa fruit pulp that remains after cocoa beans have been harvested and ‘upcycles’ it for sale as a sweetener. This conversion of typical waste from the cocoa production process boosts farmer income streams as well as contributing to more sustainable agricultural practices.
Innovative potential can also be possessed by man-made waste. It does not always have to be discarded. In a recent example, Instead of dumping excess, unsold beer that has accumulated due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, a German brewer paired up with craft bakers who baked bread with beer rather than water. The resultant product was and still is well received.
Expensive loss due to waste is avoided when that waste is understood to possess latent value and is incorporated in another product of saleable value.
I refer to such innovative ideas as Sebirs. Sebir is a loose acronym for the phrase small effort: big result. Thousands of categorized, innovative business ideas are described on Sebir.com.
Of course, the notion of extracting latent or residual value from what already exists but is currently underutilized is very attractive these days. Particularly if it involves the transformation of waste. Such a premise is the epitome of sustainability. Innovative ideas generated in this way do not create or consume additional resources and do not add to any environmental footprint.