Read it with Us: Is Tech Blocking Your Great Idea?

We are often asked by our clients what they can do outside of class time and, inevitably, reading comes up. What we always stress is to read to learn, not just read for information. What we mean by that is to be proactive in reading and developing your English skills. Look for new terms and phrases when you read and analyze not only how they are used in the article but also how they can be used in other situations.

We have analyzed this Forbe’s article as an example for you.

Is Tech Blocking Your Great Idea? Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of Tech, Right Now

Back when I was in university I had a friend who never got around to buying a computer.

“I never got around to _____ing” = I could not find the time to do something. We often use this phrase in the past form, to explain that we didn’t do something we knew we should, something we KNEW was important.

Past form:
“I never got around to washing the dishes, it was a busy day”
“I never got around to studying English, that’s why my level is low”
“I never got around to writing the report, there were just too many things to do”

Question form: We can put this into a question form as a polite way of asking if something completed a task without being too confrontational or judgmental:

“Did you get around to washing the dishes today?”
“Did you get around to studying English today?”

“Did you get around to writing that report?”

It’s not that he didn’t need one; we all used computers in class for CAD product design, and having one at home could save a lot of time. It’s also not that he didn’t understand the various features of different computers. In fact, he was an incredible source of knowledge on the specs of almost all the tech out there—and that was part of the problem. Every time a new model came out, he would inevitably come to the conclusion that the best option was still on the horizon.

To be “on the horizon”: to be upcoming; something that will happen in the near future:

“I have no plans on the horizon” = I have nothing planned for the near future.
“There are some big changes on the horizon” = some big changes are on the way.

So, he would wait for the next model due to be released next week, next month, next year…never actually making the purchase.

The future held so much attraction to my friend, he failed to see that he could actually accomplish quite a lot by using what was already available. A compromise here, an adjustment there, and he could have been a happy PC user.

As startup or corporate entrepreneurs, our job is to look for frictions.

Frictions = noun; opposing forces / ideas / methods / opinions that cause discomfort.

“We need to address the frictions in the office, it is effecting productivity”
“Making last minute changes could cause friction with our clients”
“There’s friction in the department due to the new action plan”

We hunt for problems and broken links in behaviours, systems and processes. And, once we’ve identified a friction, we can then use our innovative thinking and methodologies to come up with solutions. Each friction, and it’s solution, represent a certain use case. A problem, and it’s attached solution.

When the time comes to evaluate the technological feasibility of the solution we came up with, sometimes things fall short.

The problem is significant, the solution is clear, but the technology required to make this solution a reality is just not quite there.

Negligible = too small to be important; “a negligible problem”
Slight = small; “We have a slight problem”
Noticeable = can be seen, but isn’t big or small; “There’s a noticeable problem”
Significant = large; “We have a significant problem with the accounting department” / “The problem in the accounting department is significant”

And then we become like my never-bought-a-PC friend from school.  Maybe if we wait a bit longer, we think, technology will progress and then our solution will work. For innovators looking to make an impact in the near term, choosing a solution that can only be possible in the future means nothing can be done at the current moment. Not good.

The alternative is to find out how to  make the most of what tech can do, right now. We don’t accomplish what we set out to do when we claim that, for a certain friction or use case, only future technologies will make the solution a reality. If your company or startup has a long horizon and is focused on RnD, you can plan farther out into the future. But, if you need to start showing results, grabbing market share, and providing users solutions via a launched product within the next 12 months, you do not have the same luxury of time to wait for the technology to mature. You need to act now.

Via = by means of;
“We will get there via plane”
“I received the information via email”
“I’ll send it to you via courier”

So, how do we align the stars of a friction or use case, when the technology required to solve it can’t quite deliver the goods? 

All you need is a clean board, color markers, and a bit of quiet time to think things through.   

Draw a table on the board.  On the X axis of your table, write Near Term, Mid Term, and Long Term. On the Y axis write out all the frictions or use cases you wish to satisfy. For each friction, list out the solutions (concepts) that can work. Naturally, some solutions will work with current technology, so they should go in the Near Term column. Others will require technology that will become available in the Mid Term, and there will always be those “nano tech autonomous battery free sensor” type solutions which will land in the Long Term.

Leaving things as they are on the table doesn’t achieve much, as there will be some frictions or use cases that will only be satisfied in the future. We want a solution that works now.  

Here comes the innovation challenge.

The key question to ask is this: For this solution which is now placed in the Mid or Long Term column, what is the version of this concept that can work today? Maybe it’s not as automated, or streamlined.  Maybe data will need to be entered manually through an app. Maybe it needs to be less intelligent and less automated. However, in some cases, the friction is so burning that reducing the functionality by 50% is still better than having nothing. 

The key point is not to lose these concepts to the future, but rather, to find ways we can materialize them today. By going through this process, you are essentially creating a road map of development. This road map holds high value, because it outlines what can be done now, and how the concept can evolve as technology progresses. The near term solution may be simpler, smaller, and less powerful, but it can be made available today. By placing a solution in the real world you will gain an opportunity to enter the market, engage with clients, and gain traction. As time progresses, and technology evolves, so too will your solution. But by this time, you will already have gained users, insights, and potentially even revenues.