It's The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea

from the ideas-without-execution... dept

For years we've tried to explain the difference between ideas and execution, and how lots of people have ideas (in fact, many have the same ideas entirely independently), but without good execution, those ideas aren't really worth much at all. This point comes up a lot in the debates we have over the patent system -- with patent system supporters often overvaluing the idea part, and grossly underestimating the importance of execution. Often this is because they've never built a real business, and don't realize how little an initial idea plays into the final product. The two are often oceans apart. But stopping others from executing well (or forcing them to fork over a ton of money) just because they executed well where you did not? That doesn't seem like encouraging innovation or promoting progress at all.

DSchneider points us to an excellent recent Jeff Attwood post about the differences between the idea and the execution. It's well worth reading as it covers a bunch of different things, including a common refrain made against those who successfully execute: that they were only able to do so because they were "well-connected." As he notes, being well connected may get you an initial head start, but if you can't execute well, no one will come back. The idea, alone, is almost meaningless.

Attwood highlights this by pointing to a recent letter to a mailing list from one of the guys who started a crowdfunding operation called Fundable a while back, which failed miserably (and very spectacularly in public, with an open letter posted to its website laying out all the dirty laundry). There were all sorts of problems with the execution, which the guy even admits:
Yes, Fundable had some technical and customer service problems. That's because we had no money to revise it. I had plans to scrap the entire CMS and start from scratch with a new design. We were just so burned out that motivation was hard to come by. What was the point if we weren't making enough money to live on after 4 years?
The "technical and customer service problems" underplayed how significant some of those problems were. And yet... now that other crowdfunding platforms are getting attention, such as Kickstarter, this guy is crazy upset that they "stole his idea."
I feel that this story is important to tell you because Kickstarter.com copied us. I tried for 4 years to get people to take Fundable seriously, traveling across the country, even giving a presentation to FBFund, Facebook's fund to stimulate development of new apps. It was a series of rejections for 4 years. I really felt that I presented myself professionally in every business situation and I dressed appropriately and practiced my presentations. That was not enough. The idiots wanted us to show them charts with massive profits and widespread public acceptance so that they didn't have to take any risks....

I cannot tell you how painful it is to watch 5 assholes take your idea and run with it and not even give you credit. I hate all 5 of them for that. If I see them, I may punch each one of them in the face. If you have never started your own company and then had someone else steal the credit for what you worked hard to develop, you don't understand.
Now, I have started my own company, and I've had lots of other people either come up with the same idea separately, or even blatantly decide to do something similar to various aspects of our business. So I do know how it feels. And, certainly when you first hear about it, it may be annoying, but it's really just a challenge. I'll be honest, there are times when others have done a better job executing on ideas than I have in the past, and in the end you either compete, or you tip your hat and move on. Competition breeds innovation and better execution since you know you need to do more. And that means not screwing up your technology and customer service and not lashing out and blaming others when someone else executes better.

And, the thing is, given what we write about, and all the business model examples we've see over the years, we're pretty damn familiar with many of the players in the whole "crowdfunding space." There have been lots of players who have come and gone, and there are at least a dozen players in the space today. And it's not because they all "took" the idea from this guy, but because lots of people recognized that it's an idea that makes sense. Kickstarter is certainly getting a ton of press these days, but that's mostly because of some top notch execution on its part.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:56pm

    The comments on that mailing list letter are pure awesome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Grammah Correction Specialist, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

    Once again protecting heliosphere from engrish loverz!

    1.) "lots of" is wordy. Try replacing it with "many"
    2.) Avoid contractions in formal writing. "Don't should be "Do not", "can't" should be "can not"
    3.)"this by pointing" is an unusual word combination. Are you missing a word? You may want to re-write it.
    4.)"one of the guys" is also wordy. It can stand on it's own with "one guy"
    5.)"the guy even" is weird. The subject "Guy" conflicts with "even" why not just say "the guy"
    6.)"4 years, 5 assholes, etc." Be sure to spell out numbers less than or equal to ten.
    7.) While technically correct as is, use "feel" only when expressing emotions.
    8.) Blatantly" is "offensively loud of noisy. But "Flagrant" may work better because it means "outrageous behaviour"
    9.) "it's an idea" might be shortened up to just "its"


    See Sargeant Anous´╗┐ battle grammah crimes! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9_kahA_wQo

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    Re:

    I FUCKING HATE YOU!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re:

    You really don't know anything about grammar. Not a single one of your points is relevant, and half of them are wrong. You don't even understand the difference between "it's" and "its" with your suggestion in #9. (Hint: "it's" is a contraction of "it is", while "its" is the possessive form for "it")

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:26pm

    Evil dead

    ya know your right
    CHOP CHOP

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    Thank you for mentioning that. I had a great time reading those.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:28pm

    Troll

    Just a disgruntled Troll, ignore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    ant anti mike, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:28pm

    ALSO

    in correction of proper grammer one has to follow this rule if you spell ten or five in a paragraph don' then spell write 2 or 5, You are supposed to either give the number or write the number NOT both.

    AND THAT'S ENGLISH YA FOOKIN LAMA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:40pm

    Re:

    I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that this is not an actual person writing these. I believe there is a program that is being run that takes a block of text and scans it for specific phrases and returns a set of results. So, where it sees words like "blatant", it always suggests "flagrant" as an alternative. The last handful of comments from this person have all been formatted the same way and have included almost identical wordings with poor formatting.

    This reeks of a bot scanning the copy of the posts, returning a set of grammar suggestions based on keywords and regular expression string matching, and then automatically making the comment. I have a feeling no one is ever going to receive a reply to a comment left to one of these again.

    There was a series of regular posts by this person earlier where that feels like the programmer was trying to figure out how TechDirt's comment system works while programming his bot to parse TechDirt's content and be able to automatically fill in comments linking to various junk sites. The programmer was probably collecting HTML field names, backwards engineering how the posting of comments works, and then fed this data into his bot.

    Mike, I highly recommend you investigate this "person" for bot activity. Each comment includes a link, so it's likely all intended to generate seemingly relevant comments to sneak in spam links.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Re:

    In addition, who wants to take on a wager with me that the time it takes for TechDirt's RSS feed to update with the latest content is about as long as it takes for the "Grammah Correction Specialist" to post?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:47pm

    Re:

    Also, his email address: jprattx@gmail.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Troll

    My vote is currently on bot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re: Troll

    My vote is currently on bot.

    Troll, not bot. Just ignore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Troll

    Robot Troll?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Lol wut? No I went to the bar because y'all were boring me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you're seriously the person who wrote "1.) Avoid contractions in formal weddings." then I sincerely believe you would fail the Turing Test.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    doughless (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Troll

    But I can't resist, he has commented multiple times about the use of contractions in formal writing. Assuming your blog qualifies as formal writing, who the hell cares if you use contractions? Or did I get lost and we still live in the year 1200?

    Okay, I'm done; I'm sure you're right that she's intentionally trolling with poor grammar advice, so I won't comment in reply to her anymore.

    And sorry, I don't know grammah correction specialist's gender, so I decided to use she and her instead of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    ant anti mike, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    its tam in new form guys

    YUP trying o be ignorant lil twit as usual now that
    i decided to come at him sideways while you guys have fun actually discussing things rationally

    however michaelgeist.ca had same issue where he had to get that post thing with the picture it however has hacks around but does get rid a noobs.

    just dont call the conservative govt facist at his site ( banned me from posting about a law that was about warrant less search and seizure and i said "hitler would be proud of such a fascist law".

    I will say at last here there is a sense a humor and a lil more freedom to speak your mind BUT ill say it the tam guy is a good laugh. Its one think to be like a devils advocate to SPUR discussion but when doing so constantly contradicts oneself and makes you look like an idiot when facing irrefutable evidence or facts of sanity well. thats when you become an utter troll.

    P.S. OMG large words hopw you don't get confused by them TAM

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 12:40am

    Re:

    why?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Valto, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 12:54am

    crowdfunding by cupcakes

    Quite interesting how the comments here took a life of their own. Having english as my second language, I always have plenty of errors in my writing and get noted for that. Oh well.. I still think it's better than writing in Finnish.

    To my actual point. I fully agree on the post itself. Just yesterday I posted about one entrepreneur that had the idea for crowdfunding without knowing it

    http://www.growvc.com/blog/2010/02/crowdfunding-by-cupcakes/

    What comes to fundable, I think they were just too early to markets.

    Note: if you find yourself in the position where you need to educate your market in the main concept, you may be too early...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Coughing Monkey (profile), Feb 27th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    Re:

    omg it's one of those anal english teachers that try to make us all into cookie cutter images with no individuality.. it's all 'bout style you old control freak!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    I would agree that one cannot 'take' or 'steal' a general idea like crowd funding. One could however 'take' or 'steal' a particular implementation of an idea. However, taking a failed implementation does not seem like a good start. Having a plan is great, being able to adapt the plan when it is not working is even greater - that is where the folks that execute well have the edge, adaptability.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Turing test? No, your assuming something that isn't true, and not using your right brain. I was looking for a word that would fit in an alliteration sense with the same syllables as the word "writing." So I win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 27th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I was looking for a word that would fit in an alliteration sense with the same syllables as the word "writing.""

    Alliteration are words with the same consonant used in succession. While those two words did begin with "w", it wasn't used in an alliterative sense. Additionally, since writing phonetically begins with an "r" sound, you chose the wrong phonetic replacement. "Reading, Writing, and Arithmatic" is an alliteration because of this reason.

    Grammar fail.

    And I still don't believe a person wrote those bullet points, because I can't believe there is a real living person stupid enough to write so horribly with absolutely no sense of proper English usage and meaning. It would shatter the minimum IQ threshold I believe a person would need to have to be self-aware.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Feb 27th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Troll

    If it helps, they're being purposely bad at grammar in an effort to be ironically funny. Just ignore it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 27th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    To answer why this would fail the Turing Test, though, a computer program would likely be programmed to swap words based on actual consonants, not phonetic usage ... a human should know the difference between "wedding" and "writing" as a phonetic alliteration.

    When you work on the next version of your program, be sure to check for "wr" and swap it out with "r" words, as the "w" sound is rarely emphasized in verbal usage.

    Actually, I would drop the alliterative function from your program altogether, it's just stupid. And your random word ending replacement function could use a bunch of tweaking, like "-ore" to "-oar" just doesn't work visually.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 5:17pm

    Am I the only one thinking "Grammah Correction Specialist" its an amazing concept?!

    This is the dawn of Web 4.0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Wayne Campbell, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Troll

    To the tune of "Livin' on the Edge" by Areosmith. Party on, Wayne, Party on Garth.

    I alsos wants to know what Mike's Vaudeville Theatrical Troupe thinks. I spends lots of teim matching up sylabals and rhimes.

    Something emerged from the bridge today
    I don't know what it is
    Views my own trolls didn't verbalize.
    The posts all have weird things to say
    I guess it's probably theirs
    It looks like backhanded drive...

    And they're livin' under the bridge... livin' under the bridge
    Livin' under the bridge... livin' under the bridge

    There's a comment on the blawg today
    Must be from a troll; green and growing hair
    But they've commented since July
    If you can follow that thing
    That they said over there
    Then mister, you're a better man than I

    Livin' under the bridge
    I won't stop (shut us up) the view from postin' (hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge
    Can't tell what (shut us up) it means at all (hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge
    I won't stop (shut us up) the view from postin' (hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge

    Tell me, do you think this custom should be eradicated
    Obliterated or annihilated and put to sea?
    You try to share a little bit of you're opinion
    Couple weeks later, got a scary-lookin' banyan
    It always happened, my friend
    Again and again and again and again
    (Repeat)

    The comments on the blawg all stink today
    But they've been postin' there all week
    It could be a cool retort or a helpful assort
    Well, maybe I should another peek...

    (sound of a hard-drive running and modem connecting)
    AHHHH!!

    Livin' under the bridge
    I won't stop (shut us up) the view from postin' (hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge
    Can't tell what (shut us up) it means at all (hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge
    I won't stop (shut us up) the view from postin' (hundred million)
    Livin' in the fridge (shut us up, hundred million)
    Livin' under the bridge
    Don't know what means, don't know what means
    Livin' under the bridge
    Don't know what means, don't know what means
    Livin' under the bridge
    Don't know what it is at all
    Livin' under the bridge, yeah!

    Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re:

    Why do you hate so much?

    Well, I hate people with bad B.O. and those that don't tip the minimum amount. These are two things that bother me, but that doesn't keep me from 1.) loving the man I am with who wears the same pair of undies for a week straight. 2.) putting a few dollars extra down because my man is a complete and total jew.

    Get this, folks, I think someone doesn't like me, and that's quite okay.

    You have some major problems you need to fix and figure out.

    Have you considered professional halp? Alas, I can only give you the name of a few psychologists in the SFO area I've worked with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    sdmadsen, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Jeff Atwood

    His name is Jeff Atwood, not Attwood. Please make sure you give credit to the correct person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: Jeff Atwood

    For what? What is Jeff Atwood responsible for?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, this is an amazing way to get introduced to a new group of people. Yes, I guess I would qualify as a "totally secret jew" but that's why I have the job I have.

    Listen, I'm sorry for my GF guys, I didn't know she was commenting on here. I'm real embarrassed, but she's quite the lyricist, huh? Anyways, I'll have a talk with her tonight.

    I'm so embarrassed that I won't say who I am. But I'm definitely not Jeff Atwood.

    I'm sure that if this blog was run by decent people it would remove that name because his name is misplaced, and it's definitely not true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Reise Laender, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    Well, back to the topic of the blog.

    I guess "execution and idea" can also be "means and end", like the saying "The end justifies the means".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Re:

    You're talking about "end justifying the means" by using water-boarding, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Ross Nicholson, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 1:21am

    Re: It's The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea

    Of course, nobody knows how important ideas are. The simple reason is that patents are granted to people who steal ideas, so the value of ideas themselves has yet to be determined.
    As a prodigious idea producer, I can tell you that generally speaking, without the idea, nothing happens.
    My ideas have made literally trillions of dollars. (Filming Star Wars was my idea. Avatar was my story. I invented the word "inclusive" and "inclusive democracy" The HOPE Scholarships, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Deadbeat Dad Laws, 100's more)
    What we need to do is to vaporize thieves who try to copyright or patent other people's ideas. We have the technology to determine truthfulness now. We should use it to reward those who have ideas and harshly punish those who steal other people's ideas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Ross Nicholson, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 1:21am

    Re: It's The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea

    Of course, nobody knows how important ideas are. The simple reason is that patents are granted to people who steal ideas, so the value of ideas themselves has yet to be determined.
    As a prodigious idea producer, I can tell you that generally speaking, without the idea, nothing happens.
    My ideas have made literally trillions of dollars. (Filming Star Wars was my idea. Avatar was my story. I invented the word "inclusive" and "inclusive democracy" The HOPE Scholarships, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Deadbeat Dad Laws, 100's more)
    What we need to do is to vaporize thieves who try to copyright or patent other people's ideas. We have the technology to determine truthfulness now. We should use it to reward those who have ideas and harshly punish those who steal other people's ideas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Kevin Marks, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 9:47am

    The original idea was Schneier's, or Street Perfromers

    The Street Performer Protocol is a 1998 paper that describes the basics of this idea, while noting that it dates back years for public performances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 1st, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re:

    skitt's law: A corollary of Muphry's law, variously expressed as, "Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself," or, "The likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Truffle Apps, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Very interesting

    Very good read.

    Thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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