top of page

Idea Incubation and driving a successful business strategy

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Summary: The Curiosity Vine is an idea incubator. It is a marketplace for curiosity enablement. We "trade" in good ideas, creativity, and connectivity. Our focus is to:

  1. Provide a safe, nurturing environment for thoughtful people to create new ideas;

  2. Provide an idea marketplace - for new, often cross-disciplinary ideas to be vetted and grown;

  3. Provide a discreet space for people and organizations to collaborate and test idea purchase.

The Curiosity Vine provides a digital platform, creative templates, and thinking tools to foster the marketplace. Our participants include Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, executives, young leaders, and retired executives. The Curiosity Vine has incubated several nonprofits, for-profits, and socially transforming programs.

Jeff Hulett is the curator of The Curiosity Vine. Jeff is joined by many collaborators. Some contribute weekly, some occasionally, all contribute their inspired curiosity. Contact Jeff to learn more about becoming part of our idea incubation marketplace.


Background: Business sustainability and seeking a TODAY / FUTURE balance.

At a high level, most businesses balance two things to drive success:

  1. They deliver value to customers TODAY; and,

  2. They invest in delivering value to customers in the FUTURE.

If they balance this well, they will have happy customers, employees, owners, and communities where they work and serve. Getting the investment tradeoff right between TODAY and the FUTURE is what creates a SUSTAINABLE business model. This is really challenging to do.... consistently getting the TODAY / FUTURE investment mix right is the business leader's most challenging responsibility.

Our approach and facilitating a healthy MIX: The main danger is that firms over-invest in TODAY. This may happen for a variety of reasons. Not least of which is when these firms are beholden to investors or other organizational incentives that may drive the firm to over-invest in TODAY. Short-term profit is generally very salient. Making long-term investments to the uncertain future is often challenging. Our naturally occurring loss aversion and availability bias generally makes short-term focus easier for most people.

Getting the TODAY / FUTURE investment mix correct is so important. Think of TODAY as paying rent. This is how the firm pays bills today. Think of the FUTURE as how the firm will create revenue tomorrow. If a firm doesn't invest enough in the FUTURE they will get caught flat-footed when tomorrow comes. If they invest too much in the FUTURE, they may not be able to make rent TODAY. The graphic shows a solution investment approach, which requires a portion of existing talent that could be working on TODAY services and diverting them to FUTURE solution development investment.

Firms make money and create a SUSTAINABLE business model by getting the TODAY / FUTURE investment mix correct. I have not found a magic investment mix percentage, but I do appreciate having an ongoing organizational investment focus and process is a sign the firm takes the FUTURE seriously. Also, not all of your associates may desire to work on FUTURE-focused investments. The firm investment approach should enable self-selection.

The firm investment process flow: Getting the mix correct is less about a magic investment mix percentage and more about the process. We provide a high-level process flow for the ongoing future-focused investment decision process. Solution generation, or “idea generation,” is a key aspect of your future investment capacity. Having a pipeline of idea opportunities, much like having a pipeline of revenue opportunities, is a key to creative growth as a company. The initial solution generation part of the investment process is where an idea incubator like The Curiosity Vine is intended to help businesses accelerate new idea generation.

Because good ideas likely include initiatives from outside the firm, the idea incubator is best hosted outside the firm's operating environment. Also, the “because we have always done it this way” cultural influence has a way of squelching creativity. As firms grow, very understandably, they have a tendency to become more protective of their brand and intellectual property. Lawyers and other risk professionals generally work inside larger firms with this protective mandate. While understandable, these more protective firm processes may create control structures hampering robust idea incubation process.

Our process includes steps that:

  1. Leverage the amazing strengths of the firm to bring a good idea to market, while also

  2. Minimize possible negative impacts of firm cultural influence on idea generation.

At its core, The Curiosity Vine uses the concept of “curiosity exploration.” This provides an individualized process that encourages idea incubation. Good idea incubation can take a little time and practice. We believe it is a small investment to drive tremendously valuable insights enabling business growth. To dig deeper, please see our companion article: Curiosity Exploration.

Idea incubation will shape an inventory of business-ready ideas. A helpful byproduct is a network of supporting and idea-aligned relationships both inside and outside the firm. At this point, "Step 3" becomes critical. This is the point at which the firm is ready to “pull an idea off the shelf” and initiate integration of the idea into the firm’s go-to-market infrastructure. Step 3 envisages a formal investment or capital planning process. This process marries objective investment information with the professional judgment of firm senior leaders. The optimal investment process outcome includes:

  1. A precise (optimized) investment result based on the objective and judgmental idea and proposal solution information,

  2. An accurate investment result based on the firm's goals and objectives,

  3. An actionable investment schedule, implementable by the firm's valuable resources, and

  4. Results tracking and audit to record investment decisions and rationale.

A common challenge I hear is: "My leadership is not always forthcoming with investment budgets. They tend to be more opportunistic and reactive." All the more reason to have a disciplined investment or capital planning process! As the old saying goes: “Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.” As such, when budgets do become available, those that are ready are more likely to receive investment funding.

For step 3, we recommend a capable multicriteria, multi-alternative investment evaluation and prioritization solution. I work with Definitive Business Solutions. The platform Definitive Pro is just such a solution to prioritize projects generated from robust idea incubation.

Finally, a robust idea incubation and idea to solution inventory prioritization process leads to organizational confidence. Participant confidence leads to higher levels of process buy-in, implementation execution, and work satisfaction. To dig deeper, please see our article: Great decision-making and how confidence changes the game

Please start with your commitment to invest in the future. Provide space for your super dedicated, driven, and intelligent team to create new ideas in an idea incubation environment. Consider using an idea incubator like The Curiosity Vine to get started!


bottom of page