Mind to Market

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Value of Evangelists

I had a conversation this morning with long time medical informaticist Rob McClure. Having been at the forefront of health IT for years, Rob has seen his share of companies rise and fall as the healthcare industry has struggled with its information issues. His belief is that our society values the evangelists over producers; that we are all too easily pulled in by the next great thing. He does admit that when he uses the word "value" he means "attracted to." Put that way, I tend to agree with him. If he meant "value" as in "invest resources in," all academics would be billionaires. But the days of throwing money at good ideas before they've been demonstrated are over as any entrepreneur can tell you. Nevertheless, ideas are sexy, and we'd much rather listen to someone telling us about the way their new idea will save us time, money and make our belly's flatter than to listen to someone tell us that nothing less than 1,000 sit-ups a day will do the trick.

I continue to be reminded of the film Envy (obviously left a better impression on me than the vast majority of the film going audience) where the Jack Black character comes up with a winning, although completely unproven, product idea and the Ben Stiller character dismisses the thing outright as inane. Sure enough, Black makes a mint while Stiller wallows in mediocrity. And sure enough again the whole thing comes crashing down when one LITTLE detail (as originally foretold by Stiller) was overlooked. Oh well, off to the next big thing...

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