Edison went through many thousands of versions of the electric light globe, literally, before finding one that worked and could be mass produced.


Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons.

It is these thousands of iterations that led to his famous observation that success is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

The one percent inspiration is critical, though. Without an idea that drives us forward, we would never keep going through the endless repetition of trial and error that builds success.

It is that inspiration that builds staff and customer loyalty and that gives your brand meaning.

Many branding tools, discussions and seminars, including Simon Sinek’s famous Why Ted Talk, emphasise the importance of passion in building your unique brand identifier.

But inspiration has another, deeper significance for business in tough times.

Nearly all businesses, and business models, have a reasonable chance of succeeding when the economy is booming, but we need something special when the going gets rough. The customer and staff loyalty, and their willingness to pay for our unique value, is an important ingredient in the recipe for survival.

The challenge in tough times is to find that competitive edge that allows us to thrive while others are struggling. Some businesses become more aggressive, use their market position to dominate their competitors, or their global reach to drive down costs. These strategies are exploitative. In the current global economic climate, these strategies exacerbate the problems we all face, not ameliorate them.

The premise of Great Notion is that innovation and inspiration provide a non-exploitative differentiator and allow us to build stronger, long lasting relationships with our stakeholders. We can expand by exploiting others, or we can outcompete them by being better, and being better in this context usually means being smarter.

Putting your inspiration at the core of all your business practice, or identifying the inspiration that belongs at the heart of your business practice allows you to build value, based on your values, rather than on exploiting your customers, staff or suppliers.

That is the way to build thriving, viable, sustainable business. Now, that’s a great notion.

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