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 @ 5:39pm

    What is an idea?

    angry dude,

    E=mc^2 is not an idea. Its a conclusion drawn from a very fundamental theory about how an important part of reality works. Many pages of math and multiple connections to numerous physical laws, that took decades of effort to discover, are required to demonstrate the validity of the equation. This actually comes much closer to the constructive proof allowed by patents than a mere idea. However, to turn it into a useful product: a bomb, power plant, or power source for an aircraft carrier takes a lot more than just the the equation and the many pages of math to prove the equation describes reality.

    An idea is just some random notion that just pops into someone's head. It may or may not be a good one. The only way to be sure its a good one is to make it real, market it, and sell it for cash. At least make the damn thing work rather than leaving it as bar room beer talk.

    Getting an idea is cheap and stupidly easy. You can have a hundred before breakfast without breaking a sweat. One out of a thousand may be worth taking further. One out of a thousand of those might even be worth building. The making it real part is orders more difficult than just getting an idea.

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