Ideas Are Easy... Execution Is Difficult

from the so-why-do-we-protect-the-ideas? dept

It's an ongoing theme around here, but ideas are everywhere. The real trick to making something great often has extremely little to do with the idea, and much more to do with the execution. That's where the real innovation occurs -- in taking an idea and trying to figure out how to make it useful. It's that process that's important, much more than the original idea. As nearly anyone who has brought a product from conception to market will tell you, what eventually succeeds in the market is almost always radically different than the original "idea." That's part of the reason why patents are so often harmful to innovation. The patent is for that core idea, which is rarely the key in making something successful. But by limiting who can innovate off of the idea (or just by making it much more expensive) you're limiting that process of innovation.

Some people disagree with this, but the failure of Cambrian House, once again seems to demonstrate the vast gap between ideas and execution. Cambrian House was a well-hyped company that tried to "crowdsource" new companies and products. I've paid attention to them for a while, since their business model had some similarities to what we do with the Techdirt Insight Community. However, as the founder of Cambrian House admitted in explaining the company's changing plans, it wasn't difficult to get people to come up with all sorts of interesting and exciting ideas -- but where the company failed was in getting anyone to actually execute on any of those ideas. Ideas are a starting point -- but it's high time that we stopped worshipping the idea, and started recognizing how much more important execution is in driving innovation.

Filed Under: execution, ideas, innovation
Companies: cambrian house


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  1. identicon
    A. Rational Human, 15 May 2008 @ 10:33am

    Ideas are cheap - excecution is difficult and costly

    I absolutely agree with you.

    All an idea is, is a guess based upon a feeling, submerged in a swamp of random and often irrelevant experience. Putting such a thing in a patent application camouflaged by a flood of technobable, does not make it an invention.

    At best, an idea is a launching pad - a take off point. Converting the idea into something that can be built and that actually works is very difficult. Making something out of it that others want and are willing to pay for is even more difficult. Unless and until you move from that "brilliant billion dollar" idea to the point of actually EARNING that billion dollars, its nothing but a pile of bullshit in the dark.

    I am convinced the "fix" for our patent mess is that one should have to DEMONSTRATE, to a jury of competent engineers in the relevant field, the idea actually working and show that it actually has the specific properties your patent application says it has. Add that to the new, useful, and non-obvious finding and you eliminate 80+% of patent applications before they get past the mail room. Interestingly, this would simply be a return to common US Paten Office practice during the 19th century.

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