How to Push Your Big Idea

There are two ways to push your next big idea:

1. The Business Case

Pull together a fancy looking presentation with buckets full of analysis (discounted cash flows, net present values, operations analysis, customer value analysis, competitive positioning, the whole nine yards), it is the  professional thing to do.  Unfortunately:

  • Your idea will be flat
  • Nobody will entirely grasp what you are suggesting
  • Everybody will snipe at it
  • And tell you why it couldn’t possible work
  • At best you will escape unscathed, and despite all your hard work it will still be just an idea

2. The Prototype

Run a trial or build a prototype: it doesn’t stand a hope in hell of working, it will be horribly flawed and look like an 8 year old’s school project (lots of plastic and string).  However

  • Your idea will be three dimensional
  • Everybody will understand what you are doing
  • People will tell you what you need to do to make it better
  • They will talk about what you are doing
  • Somebody senior will come and have a look
  • You will gain insight
  • Your idea will gain momentum
  • It will become real

Far be it for me to lead the jury, or be biased in any way shape or form.  But I do think there is a right answer (and it doesn’t involve PowerPoint)

P.S. Legend has it that James Dyson built 5,127 prototypes of his vacuum cleaner, but then, what does he know?

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

Read another opinion

Image by DennisCHEN


  1. Hi James,
    There’s an old saying that says that we buy on emotion and support our decision with logic. If you are going to use powerpoint then a story or a cause usually helps with the emotion bit. However, a prototype or model or pilot requires us to put our heart into it to transform what is only a set a plans into reality. Guess we could say that it is the difference between painting by numbers and painting, one is learning and the other is expressing what you see.


  2. Hi James

    I agree. There is nothing like showing your product in the flesh and blood. I have found the opposite approach works for my business. I produce a working child for potential clients to play with, get hook on as it were. Only after this do I contemplate a PowerPoint presentation.


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