Categories
innovation startups

Ideas Are Worthless

You may thinkyou have the best, most amazing idea but I’m sorry to tell you that your idea is worthless…. But it’s Ok, most ideas are worthless.

Now before I get too deep, I’ve seen hundreds of pitches with a wide range of ideas and I’ve signed stacks and stacks of NDA’s to keep someone’s ideas secrets. Want to know the best secret idea I’ve ever heard?

There are none. We’re you listening at the beginning? Ideas are worthless and I’ve never been blown away by an amazing idea. Never! I’ve heard interesting ideas and clever ideas but most of the time amazing ideas are not the exciting part.

If you just think about the ideas behind the world’s most successful companies, the ideas aren’t that exciting.

  • A phone that doesn’t have any buttons
  • A car that uses electricity instead of a motor
  • A new search engine

These ideas by themselves have no value and even if you were able to rewind the clock 20 years, the ideas themselves weren’t worth anything without the entrepenours to drive them.

Nokia had phones without buttons before Apple. There were plenty of electric golf-carts before Tesla, and Google was late to the game as far as search engines go.

It’s the execution that creates value and these companies executed exceptionaly well.

While ideas are worthless, working on your idea is the thing that starts to create value. Some examples of value creation:

  • A list of potential customers willing to try or buy a finished product
  • Sales or purchase orders for a product or service
  • A prototype of the future product
  • Testimonials from people who have tried the prototype/product
  • Partners willing to stock or sell the product/service
  • Patents on the product/technology. (more on patents here)

You don’t have to be an engineer or designer to make progress on an idea, but you need to take action.

The other reason that ideas are worthless is that the idea instantly changes as soon as you start working on it. Once you put a pencil to paper your idea starts to spawn new ideas. Once you have a customer using the product you start to get feedback on the idea and what needs to change about it. Once you try to sell a product you learn all the reasons people don’t want it. It’s this learning/feedback cycle that creates real value because it’s based on real applications, not just theoretical ones.

The execution of the idea is the essence of the idea. Want to make something amazing, take action to make it real.

Why are ideas worthless
Categories
innovation

Half Ideas

A half idea is sometimes better than a full one.

For many years I’ve been saying that I have half ideas. Not a full-idea or a partial thought but just half an idea. I use this expression to put ideas out into the world. I give myself permission to express ideas in their earliest stages. Ideas start out fragile, and vulnerable and this is when they are most impacted by feedback, criticism, and iteration.

Half ideas are also the most valuable because many people don’t bother to talk about them. Innovative ideas sound crazy and complete ideas seem obvious. You need the freedom to say the outlandish if you want to be innovative.

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

Albert Einstein

Ideas need space to breathe and even the ideas that sound absurd should be explored. I think it’s better to get ideas out in the open and to get the input and feedback rather than stay silent and let the idea stay a thought. By saying things out loud, even with half an idea, I’m giving myself the freedom to put things out there that are still in rough form.

Many companies and organizations punish new ideas, they further create corporate incentives to keep the status quo and not challenge dogma. That may be ok for some but it shouldn’t be ok for anyone trying to innovate.

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

I’m starting this blog/ video series to put my half-ideas out into the world and explore thoughts on technology, design, product, and innovation. The only thing I ask is that you help flesh out my half-ideas with your own.

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