People often forget that in order for an innovation to be successful, it needs more than just to be created.

Inventing something is hardly ever enough.

Instead, it needs to reach scale.

You can think of the creation, invention or discover of the innovation as the first step, starting at zero. After all, even the very best ideas start out ugly and need time, effort and resources to be iterated and molded into something with value.

This is going from zero (nothing existing) to One (a working version of the innovation). This proves the technical feasibility of the innovation.

Unfortunately, many innovation teams never go beyond the One stage.

Either because they don’t have the skills, focus or resources, they think that their job is just to prove that an idea can be turned into a reality.

After that is done, nobody takes on the much harder responsibility of scaling the innovation. This is why so many great innovations and ideas die in the innovation valley of death.

Scaling means taking the initial version of the innovation and putting in place the structures, resources, processes and marketing to expand the number of people willing to buy the innovation large enough so that the business model becomes viable.

This is going from One to 1,000

It takes a certain type of creativity to get from zero to One. It takes a whole host of other types of creativity to get from One to 1,000.

Special thanks to the late Sarah Miller Caldicott for providing the quote which inspired this post many years ago in her book Innovate like Edison. She attributes it to Japanese businessman and Microsoft employee Kazuhiko “Kay” Nishi, who allegedly said: “There are two types of creativity: making zero to one, and making one to a thousand”

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.