comments 3

This may not actually work

I am, of course, generalizing, but we live in a world of comparables and proof. In the slightly-modified words of Seth Godin, we have been trained to show up with proven and verifiable answers because that’s what will get us an A on the test or what will allow us to keep our jobs. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Risk mitigation is an important part of any organization. But if everything you’re doing is already proven, then by definition, and regardless of any claims, you are not innovating. Because if something is truly new, then it may not actually work.

My friend David Wex — who is on a mission to develop modern condominiums all across Canada — once told me that if he were to hire consultants to prepare market studies for his projects (he doesn’t), they would almost always tell him never to build. And that’s because there are often no comparables to point to and say, “look at this thing over here, it shows that somebody has already done this before and has been successful.” Instead, he has been forced to ask himself, “is there no comparable product offering because the market doesn’t exist or because nobody has done it yet?”

This is a risky proposition. Because if you’re wrong — and the market doesn’t exist — then you will likely fail. But if you’re right, and you get to introduce something new to people that want it, then you get the benefit of a commanding market position. You were right about something that most people thought was wrong and/or didn’t bother to explore. That’s why Seth Godin has argued that innovation really requires two things. It requires guts, because the thing you’re trying may not work. And it requires generosity, because innovation is, after all, about trying to make things better.

I think this is a great way of putting it.


  1. Max Vo

    Pioneers get the arrows, settlers get the land. It is always hard to be the first to try and innovate. Are you getting the right return given the risks involved and are you confident that you have the right product market fit? If you are, find like minded individuals willing to put their money at risk with you and off you go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great thought, this reminds me of an Egyptian developer Hesham Talaat Mostafa. Years ago when I was a kid he bought tons of land from the Egyptian government in the desert. They were happy to sell it to him for pennies and everyone thought he is a lunatic or money laundering. He ended up building cities that became wildly successful. New government came to power years later and sued him (unsuccessfully) for money claiming he paid for land less than what it is worth. He showed up at court and told them that the reason it is worth that much now is that he built cities on it!


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