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
    Wesley Parish, 16 May 2008 @ 5:52am

    Why do I have these lines reverberating in my head?

    I heard him then, for I had just
    Completed my design
    To keep the Menai bridge from rust
    By boiling it in wine.
    I thanked him much for telling me
    The way he got his wealth,
    But chiefly for his wish that he
    Might drink my noble health.

    Lewis Carroll, The White Knight's Song.

    I get ideas all the time. Most of them relate to stories I am writing, or trying to write; some of them relate to thing I want to do; others are things to chuckle over.

    Even in writing stories, I have to balance the idea with actually writing it down. It's very, very easy to have an idea about an individual's time lines splitting on every decision or non-decision made or avoided; it is very difficult to make an enjoyable story out of it.

    Boiling the Menai Bridge in wine is easy compared with writing a believable story about time lines that can split and spill out like pickup sticks - so I haven't. I'm trying something a little bit different. And it's not the only art, craft or science with that either - just ask your local friendly muso about the difficulty of composing new music.

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