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INNOVATIVE IDEAS PAVE WAY TO SUCCESS

Published: Sunday, Jan. 14 1996 12:00 a.m. MST

On any Saturday morning, garage-sale signs spring up all over. Most people ignore them, but on a recent Saturday we passed a sign a bit larger than the others. It stated: "Today's Best Garage Sale."

My wife insisted that we turn around and go back. I have never seen so many cars at a single garage sale. The wording of the sign had compelled everyone who saw it to come to the sale.Warren Bennis quotes George Bernard Shaw, "All great progress is made by unreasonable men who make the world adapt to them." He goes on to point out that, "We're moving to a stage of idea-intensive production and away from material-intensive production." Leaders realize that if they're going to be successful, it's going to be through intellectual capital that creates wealth, that it's people with ideas who are making a difference.

Roger Hendrix and Rob Brazell in an upcoming book called "The Idea Economy" have gone so far as to propose the coming age as the "idea economy." We have reached a stage where ideas will be the principal economic resource. Our current economic theories, the principles upon which we place value, are outdated. The ongoing controversy regarding the definition and makeup of the gross domestic product is but a part of the argument." This because the GDP gives no value to intellectual property.

The economy is defined by most as the economic value of labor, the theory of supply and demand, the concept of economies of scale and by simplistic accounting calculations of revenue minus cost. But if you have the courage to create and seize on ideas and to pursue your dreams, you will be rewarded in the Idea Economy. If you are paralyzed by the seeming chaos of this era, you will likely drown in the coming economic sea - change. Among the idea illiterates will be well-educated, well-trained but "feet-on-the-ground managers." Hendrix and Brazell predict that the division between the haves and the have nots will develop more between ideapreneurs and idea illiterates than between the previous socioeconomic class divisions.

Working with Hendrix and Brazell, we have developed a self-evaluation that tells a person quickly just how great or weak their ideapreneur quotient is. It includes an optional 360-degree survey for those who want others to evaluate them also. The factors measured are tied to the skills that will dictate success in the Idea Economy and include:

- Your ability to nurture and be responsive to personal revelation and intuition.

- Your ability to screen ideas, to focus on those that have value.

- Your ability to dominate information, to draw from a variety of sources and resources and to be your own personal trend and environment watcher.

- Your ability to create reality through action - an idea has no value until an ideapreneur brings it to reality and implementation.

- Your ability to set and commit yourself to specific, measurable and heroic goals.

- Your ability to control your environment, to remain focused and to "work out bugs" - to persevere and to continually improve.

- Your ability to sell, to enlist the support and involvement of others.

- Your willingness to take risks, to take a chance or to experiment, and to be resilient in failure.

Interestingly, although none of these skills will sound too unusual in isolation, the combination of skills creates a very different kind of individual.

For managers who have been grounded in the traditional planning, organizing, controlling, directing activities, or for professionals, trades people or entrepreneurs who have been told to focus on sales skills and business plans, this profile is very different. Perhaps the greatest change that must occur in our macro economy in the future is the role of banks and bankers.

No industry is further behind the curve when it comes to helping small-business people succeed than is the financial industry. The old saw that says if you think you need money and if you can qualify for a banker's help, you probably don't need the money.

The banker's expectations and requirements leave little room for ideapreneurs. The future will be financed by other ideapreneur/fi-nanciers, and an entire new economic model with new definitions of work (contribution - not hours), workplace (home, not office), employment (self, contract, temporary, not lifetime) will follow.

Since most financial models are based solely on financing against equity or assets, financing for ideas will demand new models of decisionmaking.

Most importantly, successful ideapreneurs will use the idea creation skills to seek out and develop unique relationships with suppliers and customers for financial strength.

"Getting a loan" is not the mindset of the ideapreneur. Capitalizing on an idea by generating a flood of supporting ideas and resources that fall into the practice of the eight skill categories is the route to future success.

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