Ideas have a currency and a time. Sometimes YOUR idea will coincide with the ideas of others and will find a ready market. Sometimes your idea will be considered "old" or more progressively "ahead of its time". But if the market is not ready for your idea … if it is not a COMPLIANT idea, then it will disappear into the multitude of messages that bombard us all daily.
I have been thinking through the anatomy of a compliant idea for some time … but it seems that they are easy to identify when you see them … but difficult to explain. For a start, they are slippery — they appear to come from out of nowhere … arriving with their hands on their hips and their sleeves rolled up. Make no mistake, the compliant idea arrives ready to do business.
They are surprisingly easy to implement. Because they are flexible, the compliant idea can be readily applied. They bend, stretch and go around corners. You can cut them up and watch them multiply. They are ideas for the web 2.0 world. Not only that, the compliant idea keeps coming back. It will refuse to go away, and will keep knocking on the door of your creative mind until you do something with it. They are like roundabouts.
I think that the reason compliant ideas are so persistent is that they are embedded deep within our unconscious mind. Our brains work away on them in the background, making connections, firming up pathways and finally when fully formed, they burst through to our conscious mind.
Interestingly, the blogosphere has succeeded in changing some of this. Sure you need to have a good idea, even one that works nicely for and with you … but you also need to make sure that your market is ready for your idea. Now, you can do much smaller trials, create niche experiences and market to those selected audiences very cost effectively.
Like Seth Godin says in this post, "Starbucks couldn’t have launched in 1970. We weren’t ready." It is not just about your idea, and it is not just about its execution. It is also, VERY importantly, about your MARKET. And if they are not listening, then really, you are just wasting your breath.