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
    mjr1007, 15 May 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: It's a bald faced fact.

    Hank wrote:
    well, mjr1007, I believe they stated "The idea /is/ the easy part." not that good ideas were the easy part. Why you think the development is any easier with a good idea than a bad idea I have yet to figure out.

    Mjr1007 replied:
    Spoken like a true non developer. Implementing a bad design is much much more difficult then implementing a good one. Remember, not all ideas/patents are for new products.

    Hank wrote:
    The basis of the comment was that the work that goes into developing a product from the idea is the hard part.

    For example, I have an idea to create a remote starter for my motorcycle, but I haven't developed it (mainly because I don't have a clue where to start and I'm fairly lazy). Should I be able to get a patent for it? I can completely describe the system on paper but I don't know for sure if it will work because I haven't built it. Can I patent the idea and then wait for someone else to do the work and sue them when it comes out? The idea, whether good or bad, was fairly easy to come up with, thinking of how to make it work was a little harder, but I still haven't built anything or spent any money which is where the difficulty comes in.

    Let's get real here, the people being rewarded should be the ones putting in the blood, sweat, and tears. 99.999999% of ideas aren't in any way original. I can guarantee you that anything you think up right now has already been thought of and is being thought of by someone else at the same time.

    Mjr1007 replied:
    I would add that not only are you fairly lazy, but foolish as well. First off it's impossible to have an automatic starter for a motorcycle unless your one of those sissies who can't kick start their bikes and needs an electric starter. Second it's an obvious idea that anyone knowledgeable in the art would recognize. For those too lazy to even Google it here is a web page for cars.

    http://www.megatronixusa.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=M&Category_Co de=STARTER

    It an obvious move to a sissy bike with an electric starter.

    Hank, I want to thank you for making my point. All ideas are not good, original or non-obvious. Yours, and many more like them are not deserving of any protection, not even copyright for the writing of it.

    Since we are giving examples let me try one. I was interested in a sort algorithm for a SIMD array. One of the good ones is bitonic. I was looking at a paper by some IBM folks who implemented this algorithm for the cell processor. They enhanced and extended it as well. See how this works. Rather then create a completely new sort from scratch they looked at the prior art and found one. Unlike some obvious sorts, like merge sort or radix sort, the bitonic sort is definitely non-obvious. I haven't finished reading the original paper but it certainly doesn't look like it's the sort of thing that just popped into his head with no work or effort.

    Do you see the difference between you silly electric motorcycle starter and the bitonic sort? Lumping the two together is just lazy and foolish.

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