When does a bright idea become a validated reality, when does a dream turn into a reality? Not until it meets five tests, says Andy Morrison of Henley Incubator. First, it has to have a relentless focus on solving a customer problem. This is business, not a daydream; the idea has to do something real, such as lowering costs, providing greater convenience, or offering significant product and service enhancements. Second, the team that develops the idea must have a passion to achieve, and must have the right entrepreneurial skills to match the specific business opportunity.  Third, there needs to be a common language for communicating and charting progress, so that the project isn’t buried and lost among incremental investments in the core business. Fourth, there need to be relevant and quantifiable assets and skills to contribute; you can’t just assume that your skills and assets will be adaptable to new businesses. Fifth, your team needs to be well-connected, so that it has the personal influence to guide the project through corporate turbulence. And always, always be prepared to answer the questions: Is what we’re doing real? Can we win? And is winning worth the war?

Business Day 5 May 2003