I've spent the last month taking part in some interesting research at the University of Louisville. Some professors there have developed a system that helps entrepreneurs identify new opportunities. They have tested the system and it works. What they needed help with is figuring out the best way to teach it to entrepreneurs. So I've had the privilege of participating in that experiment.
The process doesn't contain anything groundbreaking. There are no "wow – I never heard of that!" moments in the class. But the process does work. It forces you to sit down and think about things and follow through on some instructions and that process leads you to some cool ideas. Finding ideas can be like dieting. Everyone wants to jump on the latest fad or take the easy way out when we all know it really boils down to lbs =calories_in – calories_out. Unfortunately, I can't disclose too much about the particular process right now. So why blog about it? Two reasons.
1) It's really fun and cool because it doesn't have anything to do with evaluating markets and business potential until the final steps. It focuses on your unique skills and knowledge, and leads to ideas that are good for you as an individual. Remember all that talk about how ideas are worthless and execution is everything? Well this ties them together by giving you ideas that you are in the unique position to execute.
2)Because this is an interesting frontier in the world of business. Coming from an engineering background, I have these constant nagging thoughts about how to measure the "soft" areas in business. I think that this is a step in the right direction – towards a science of opportunity recognition that will one day have it's own college degree program. (for some strange reason that seems to give it legitimacy)
I'm in talks with the research professor about doing more with this program. I know this is something lots of you would problemably like to try. I'll be sure to blog about it as I can.