The other day I listened to a program that was discussing the potential costs associated with producing a hit single in the United States.  If we add up all the costs which include the idea, song writing, producing, vocal production, and marketing, we’re likely going to jump the $1M mark.

This little project as it were is a highly risky one as it carries a sizable probability of failing.  As such, the record label could spend money that it may never recoup in profits.  What’s interesting about this expenditure is that a majority of it is toward marketing costs.  So while it is not cheap to write and produce the song, compared to marketing expenses, the costs are insignificant.

Friends who work in the pharmaceutical industry have shared with me that when it comes to coming up with brand new drugs, the marketing costs can also be significant.  So in some respects, the cost breakdown of this endeavor is similar to the pharmaceutical industry.

What this story helped reenforce is the simple adage that “it takes money to make money.” I would even go a step further here and say that it also takes money to save money.  Individuals (and organizations) who are interested in capitalizing on their brainpower have to recognize that coming up with that original idea is simply not enough.  In addition to developing that solid business plan and understanding how the idea can be transformed into a product/service, we have to understand that we need to have the financial wherewithal to take the idea to market.

There are several initiatives in various geographies that aim at supporting entrepreneurs with good ideas.  They provide seed funding to help get the process kicked off provide the needed push in the right direction.  These are excellent opportunities for individuals to consider, however what is also necessary for the idea generators is to enter the process with their eyes wide open. There has to be an upfront understanding of how much money is needed and an agreement on how to proceed.  I’ve seen a couple of situations where the potential investors had little to no understanding of the costs associated with taking a product to market and in the end, the idea suffered.

This is where I believe the project management body of knowledge can be particularly helpful.  While each idea is certainly unique, the approach in dealing with how to “productize” the idea and infusing the needed funds can be standardized.  Again, similar to the pharmaceutical example, project teams have to learn where to draw the line between that creative exploration phase and into the planning and execution phase.  This is more about the art side of project management rather than the science side.

For project management to play a significant role in the process we have to demonstrate how the profession can offer that value added benefit to a seemingly unrelated field, one that appears to the outside as chaotic.  Its all about connecting the dots and sharing success stories that can help provide that needed clarity.