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
    Nicole, 15 May 2008 @ 11:13am

    Improving the Interface.

    One the most damning misconceptions about non-practicing entities (NPEs) is that these establishments secure patents with the intent of pursuing lawsuits with companies that actually product the inventions that they’ve patented. Sure, that may happen with some NPEs, but what’s generally missing from pieces by journalists attacking NPEs is that many NPEs are actually trying to facilitate a more effective interface between the independent inventor and those that have established means to manufacture these inventions. David Kaefer, Microsoft’s director of business development for intellectual-property licensing, expresses this best by dividing NPEs into “patent speculators” (bad) and “patent aggregators,” such as Intellectual Ventures (IV):

    As Kaefer puts it, “It’s a chess board of leverage and counter-leverage.” Entities like IV provide a variety of benefits for companies, he says, including one that might surprise you: By providing a venue to buy and sell patents, he says, such firms “reduce litigation.”

    Historically, companies have invested in intellectual property after the “R” and before the “D” in the research and development cycle to prevent competitors from making or using products invented by a company. What I’m seeing now is the emergence of new business models that invest in the intellectual property before the “R,” upstream of the research. So you can gamble with the success of a product in two ways:

    1. invest in R&D and protect inventions that prove to be implementable

    2. invest in intellectual property and protect inventions that are predicted to be implementable

    The intent to bring the product to market is still there. What’s the big deal with this business model?

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