In the preceding chapters we covered philosophical, structural, and procedural aspects of running lean enterprise innovation colonies. But generating sufficient innovation flow to generate hits is a challenge. You need access to a steady stream of ideas that harmonize well with prevailing business currents. Insight into those currents is provided by the innovation colony's network of angels, accelerators, VCs, and entrepreneurs, as well as the colonists' own expertise and insights. If only one in 1,000 ideas has a chance to succeed, then you need to choose your targets from among thousands of prospects. That's a high number, but it's not out of reach. Even a small colony can get there, and a large one can sift through correspondingly larger numbers of ideas.
The initial size of an innovation colony depends on the enterprise's means and priorities. Most companies will be able to fund only a modest undertaking, while others will be ready to form a full-scale operation right off the bat. We think it makes sense to start small and grow as the colony begins producing successful results. But no matter what size you start at, generating that flow of ideas will be a challenge. You'll need to consider thousands of solid opportunities before you find one that explodes. Here's a plan for developing that capacity. The ideas themselves can come from suggestion boxes, brainstorming sessions, hackathons, and Lean Startup Machine events as detailed in Incubate Internally ...