For many years, we've pointed out over
again, that ideas are easy, whereas execution is hard. People get way too hung up on ideas, but lots of people have ideas, and no two people (or groups of people) are likely to execute in the same way. And, for anyone who's ever built up a success, you quickly learn that execution is everything. The initial ideas are usually completely meaningless. Apparently Scott Adams is thinking the same way. Andrew F
was the first of a whole bunch of you to have sent in his recent blog post on the "value of ideas"
which highlights this point, specifically with regards to people complaining about the idea
of a Dilbert
Movies are good or bad because of execution, not concept. Even outside of the movie realm, ideas generally have no economic value whatsoever, except in rare cases such as when a patent is issued. And even in those cases it's the patent law that creates the value, not the ideas.
From there, he goes on to point to a whole series of huge success stories... all of which probably sound like terrible ideas on paper:
I've long been fascinated by the common human illusion that ideas can be sorted into good and bad, when all experience shows this not to be the case. We could play the game all day long where I describe a simply terrible idea and then tell you about the people who got rich implementing it just right. Let's try a few...
How about a comic strip that is literally a bunch of stick figures? It will be called XKCD and have no discernable characters. Done! It's the most viewed comic on the Internet.
How about a movie about two gay cowboys? Done! Academy Award!
How about a comedic TV show about a Nazi concentration camp? Done! It was called Hogan's Heroes and was a hit in its time.
How about a Broadway musical about a bunch of frickin' cats? Done!
You'd be hard pressed to come up with an idea so bad that it couldn't succeed with the right execution. And it would be even harder to imagine a great idea that couldn't fail if the execution were left to morons.
Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything.
Separately, I should note that it's pretty cool to see Adams highlighting the massive success of XKCD. Last week, when we had posted about another Scott Adams item
, one of our regular critics insisted in the comments that Adams was only successful because of newspapers, and that no new comic strips could be successful or make money without the aid of an industry like newspapers. Others in the comments quickly pointed to Penny Arcade and XKCD -- both of which have been huge success stories. Honestly, I didn't realize that XKCD was "the most viewed comic on the internet," but as Adams has been considering how the market is changing, it's great that he's paying attention to what folks like Randall are doing, and recognizing that it's been such a huge success.