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
    Ian Ward-Bolton, 16 May 2008 @ 2:57am

    Yes, ideas are easy

    As an ideas man myself, I agree that they are easy. One minute you don't have an idea, the next you do. Do I really deserve to be paid millions via a patent for a really good idea that just came to me? I say "No!" For one thing, I actually enjoy having the ideas, so that's a good enough reward in itself.

    "But how do you propose to earn a living then?" I hear you ask. Well, I currently do a job that pays enough to cover my bills, which has very little to do with generating ideas - I have them in my spare time, for fun, and they are usually related to things I have experienced in the real world, which I am forced to take part in because I am not making millions from my ideas and living in a hedonistic fantasy world.

    The main problem I have is that I do not know what to do with my ideas. Each one I have is another potential solution to a real-world problem, which just requires someone else to implement, and I am feeling burdened by them. My current thinking is to just put my ideas out there and hope someone picks them up and exploits them for the benefit of mankind, but the ideal outcome would be to be employed as an Ideas Man, being paid in advance for future ideas that I generate for my employer. I expect a lot of this time would be totally fruitless, but occasionally I will come up with something really good. This fits nicely with my philosophy that we should be paid in proportion to effort (i.e. time spent), rather than what is output.

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