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 @ 8:53pm

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

    Actually the discussion here is not whether or not there are problems with the patent system, clearly there are, you will get absolutely no argument from me on that.

    The topic under discussion here is "ideas are easy". You won't even get a argument from me that bad ideas are easy, clearly they are. Really good ideas, on the other hand, are usually quite hard. Particularly if we are talking about reducing them to practice. From my previous example, hey lets build a time machine, easy and utterly worthless. Here are the equations necessary to build a time machine, difficult and important.

    As I've commented previously on other articles, the patent system is in desperate need of repair, just don't through out the baby with the bath water. It's critical that we promote the progress of the useful arts and sciences. The whole monopoly thing is no longer workable, but compulsory licensing with a low percentage for all patents seem like it would be a good start.

    Lets not say the patent system is broken and therefore we will end it. There you go, not so unreasonable after all.

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