Diamond in the Rough
When mining for diamonds, what are you looking for? What are you seeing? How can you determine the potential value of a diamond in the rough?

Isn’t every new business venture, from a raw startup to a re-start of a tired company, to a Fortune 500 corporation re-positioning itself, a bit like a diamond that needs cutting and polishing? How can a board of directors and management begin this re-imagining of who they can be? What resources do they need to help them see “from the outside in”?

In an attempt to stay relevant in this rapidly changing, ultra-competitive global economy, some companies chase the latest technologies. Examples of this attitude: “Let’s use Artificial Intelligence!” “Machine/deep learning!” “Blockchain!” Or another popular one, “Let’s virtualize our business and do everything in the Cloud!” But, what will this mean? Will we have to re-design all our processes and our management structure? How much will we have to pay IBM or Oracle or Microsoft, for example, to hire their help? By the way, will we need to hire Accenture, McKinsey or Bain, or some other high-powered consulting firm to advise us? This path could take tens of millions of dollars and several years!

Innovation can come in many flavors and colors. It doesn’t have to mean a total re-invention of the business, certainly not all at once. Using new tools judiciously, just seeing the ecosystem from fresh perspectives, bringing in new alliances and partnerships, can go a long way toward discovering highly profitable directions.

How do we start?

Continuing the metaphor of gemstones, multiple kinds of expertise and skill plus creative imagination are required to bring out the “hidden value” in a diamond in the rough or in an outdated design.

The questions we have to ask include:

  • How can we see/find/create new value in what we already have?
  • After identifying the desired position in our ecosystem, how might access to resources we may not currently have lead us to find higher levels of value?
  • How will we change to achieve that new level of brilliance?

The answers are out there. To find them, take the first step by asking the right questions.


Po Chi Wu

Visiting Professor in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business and Management at The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. A highly successful international venture capitalist and entrepreneur, he has lived and worked both in the United States and in Asia, and brings a unique perspective and the rich context of more than 30 years of experience and insight into the challenges of innovation and entrepreneurship.

1 Comment

Be Creative!? Okay, but how, exactly? | Advantary · April 24, 2018 at 8:46 am

[…] ask ourselves: How are we looking at the problem? Do we believe that we have sufficient knowledge to come up with a solution, that we have access to […]

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