Guarantee and Probability

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    It’s near impossible to guarantee anything.

    But probability. Yes…that’s something I can relate to. It’s logical, and yet, there is a bit of wiggle room for serendipity, creative innovation and for the shit that inevitably happens.

    At a round table discussion I was at a few weeks ago, we were looking to close a deal with a few key stakeholders that would enable an investment of money to start an incubator. 

    One of the key stakeholders said that what we were outlining for the new incubator was great and sounded exciting, but asked the question: “What guarantees can you give us that what is being created will produce this many jobs and generate that many dollars?”

    Our response was that we could not guarantee these figures, but, what we could do is predict a probability of success based on the following factors that have worked in other communities and organizations:


      • a critical mass of innovative, driven entrepreneurs,


      • a sharing culture of entrepreneurs and key stakeholders,


      • great leadership (btw, that’s a whole other post)


      • a team of entrepreneurially minded staff


      • multiple avenues of communication and touch points with the external communities of would-be customers, potential entrepreneurs, and stakeholders


      • continual checkpoints as the initiative moves forward


    But even that’s not enough. 

    To create an even stronger probability of success, we need to ensure that we are always adding on ideas that work just in time, iterating and changing up as we need, and ensuring we, as a team and as a community, are headed in a common direction. 

    There are many hard-to-measure factors that we  need to be mindful of, like having champions with the ability to say yes and figure it out, like having the support of leadership and stakeholders and with that, the ability to change course if necessary to achieve the success we are looking for.

    Funny enough, that seemed to do the trick, at least for that meeting. 

    THE POINT:  Guarantees are based on what’s happened before. The thinking is that it worked then, so it will work again. 

    But, how is that innovative? Innovation always has a risk factor, because it’s new. And the passion and relentless work that drives that innovation comes from believing in the PROBABILITY that it will work. 

About the Author

Valerie Fox

User experience and organizational design. Invention, innovation, facilitation, brainstorming. Entrepreneur, intrapreneur: always discovering, learning, figuring it out, getting it done.

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