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Support for your Innovation

World Wide Web

It's interesting to see the effort people are putting into the WWW.  Each of us is in a unique position to see that development.  A very small number of us will make our web sites very successful.  Most people who develop web sites will be very disappointed with the results. 

When Hypertext Markup Language was developed at Cern about 1989, the intention was for scientists to exchange graphical and text data is an easy seamless way.  As with many inventions, they way it is used is not what the originators intended, and is still being worked out.  In the development of this site I've had to make up techniques.  Partly because I started without much real knowledge of what I was doing.  I was forced to invent ways of doing things that I later found were easy to do when you knew how. 

In the last three months I've read hundreds of pages on the WWW.  I've become aware of serious errors that people preparing sites are making.  These errors occur because of the lack of knowledge and resources and experience.  I can see very clever technical people prepare sites that fail because there was no understanding of marketing strategy.  Other sites fail because there was no clear purpose in mind, the objective was ill defined.  Some sites, including this one suffer from the lack of financial resources. 

General Lessons To Learn

If you are developing something new it's always a struggle.  There is a certain amount you can do alone, but we all need support too.  We need to talk to people who are working in the field and who can confirm or add to our ideas.  Even outright opposition to our ideas is valuable, if it forces you to think again.  We need also to incorporate ideas from other areas of expertise.  On the WWW, writing skills, publishing skills, graphic art skills, marketing skills, some familiarity with computers, a bit of technical knowledge about programming is helpful.  Most of these skills are not really new, there is experience available that you can use.  You can't learn all the skills you need in two or three years, it might take a decade.  The prime mistake I see on the WWW is that the creative teams are too small, and the experience of the people in the teams is too narrow.  Those are things each of us can be doing something about, our sites will improve as a result. 

Having said that, it's not easy.  I put five months of work into the New Zealand Dances site before people began to take me seriously.  I asked many people for help.  Most of them tried to distance themselves from what I was doing.  Only when the task was almost ready for publication did people begin to respond in a positive manner.  It's not in my view the story of the little red hen (Who will help me plant the wheat?) but more that everyone has limited resources, and goals to achieve and reputations to protect.  When there's no obvious sign of a dollar for the effort, people need to decide how much time they can offer as a volunteer. 

The key point of the Veech Innovation Model is that none of us succeed alone.  What you do it critical. You do you must seek community support, especially the support of people close to the project.  Seek the best ideas by sharing your information and knowledge with other people working in similar fields.  Seek resources in kind, and time and advice and funding; cast the net widely.  If your idea is any good you'll need all the support you can get.  If your idea fails; and if the contribution of many others is a few hours or a small cash amount nobody will mind much.  Seeking support requires you to front up to many people, it requires you to have a good story, but it also demands that you are totally honest with people about the project, and the progress or lack of it.  It also requires both formal and informal ways to acknowledge and reward people for their efforts.  This is where many innovators fail badly.  There is a tendency to be too focused on the project and not attending to the needs of the helpers. 

John Veitch

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