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

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    MLS, 15 May 2008 @ 11:43am

    Ideas are not "inventions"

    One of the recurring themes I see in posts/comments at this site is the assumption that patent law is directed to simply "ideas", and this in turn enables the "idea" person to somehow exert untoward control.

    Yes, everyone has ideas, but this is not the starting point of patent law. It starts with what is termed a "conception" of an invention (which is far more than a mere is a formulation of a complete and operative embodiment) and concludes with "reduction to practice". Reduction to practice can be either "actual" (you build it and test if for efficacy) or "constructive" (you describe it in a patent application is detail sufficient to enable a person having skill in the art to actually reduce it to practice without having to engage in undue experimentation).

    Once conception and reduction to practice are complete, only then does patent law "kick in" should an inventor decide pursuing a patent is an appropriate course of action.

    Obviously other skill sets are needed to get an invention to market, including productization, marketing, financing, etc. My sole point with this comments is to note that a mere idea is not what patent law is all about. It is the start of a process and nothing more. Moreover, patent law requires much more than a mere idea before one can even avail himself of whatever benefits the law may have to offer.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.