Recently, Northeastern University physics professor and Harvard Medical School appointee, Albert-Lazlo Barabasi developed what he claims to be an equation for success: S=Qr.

The Equation for Success: S=Qr

According to the professor Barabasi, S (success) equals r (the potential value of a given idea) multiplied by Q (the person’s ability to execute on the idea). Thus, success equals the potential value of an idea times the ability of a person to execute on that idea: S=Qr

The Two Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business Venture

According to professor Barabasi’s research, when considering any new business venture there are two key questions we should ask ourselves: 1.) What is the potential value of this idea?, and 2.) Can I make this idea work? Thus, when evaluating the value of any new business idea, we should first consider how much this idea could be worth if it reached its full potential, and then consider our honest ability to bring the idea to this full potential. If after evaluating our new business idea in such terms we remain confident of the venture’s chances for success, perhaps then we may deem the idea worth pursuing.

The ‘Q-factor’

As such, a brilliant idea alone is not enough. We must also be able to pull it off. According to professor Barabasi, this ability to execute in a given field is known as someone’s ‘Q-factor’. A Q-factor is a combination of a person’s innate talent and skill. According to professor Barabasi, “If an individual with a low Q-factor comes across a great idea with a huge r value, the impact will still be mediocre, as the resulting product–or Qr–is diminished by the small Q-factor. Fantastic idea, poor execution.” The converse is also true. According to professor Barabasi, “Think Apple’s first handheld Newton, with its inept handwriting recognition. The reverse also happens: A creative person with a high Q-factor can put out multiple weak or mediocre–or low r—products.” It is only in the instances where a brilliant idea and the right person with the ability to make it happen merge where true success is found. The greater the idea and the greater the ability to execute to that idea, the greater the success.

What This Means for Our Careers

According to professor Barabasi’s research, our Q-factor remains relatively constant throughout our lives. Meaning, if we are not finding success in a given field, perhaps we’d be better served to switch careers and find a field where our talents may be more aligned. According to professor Barabasi, “If our Q-factor isn’t resonating with our job, we should consider if we’ve pinned our hopes on the wrong career path.” On the other hand however, professor Barabasi’s research seems to indicate it is possible to find success at any point on our career path, if only we are only on the right path. Thus, in a final word of affirmation, professor Barabasi suggests in order to find success we must merely find what we are good at, and keep trying.

You can read the full excerpt of professor Barabasi’s work here.