Ideas Are Something You Do

Here is today’s exercise in connecting up ideas. First off, there’s this summary of the TEDGlobal conference from Hugh MacLeod’s daily newsletter:

Then, there’s this quote from Seth Godin at the 99% Conference:

What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do for a living is ship.

Godin expands on that thought in this presentation as well – where he recommends “thrashing at the beginning” of a project so that you can deliver (“ship”) on time.

Again, the value is not in the idea, it’s in shipping something that’s come from the idea.

Finally, Rowan Simpson wrote a good post with questions that firms who want investment money from him should think through. He says:

The best thing you can do to stand out from the crowd is to point me at a product that I can use and, even better, that you are already selling. It doesn’t have to be polished or even finished, as long as you have planned for the work required to turn it into something that is ready to be used in anger.
Nothing impresses potential investors like scrappy execution. Most people don’t get that far.

This is part of why it’s hard to measure innovation. If ideas are something you have, then it’s easy. We can measure patents, or suggestions, or some other measure of our stock of ideas.

Measuring flow is harder – but idea flow is what determines innovation success. To measure innovation we need to track ideas that have been executed. And, even better, value created through this execution.

Ideas are something you do.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Ideas Are Something You Do

  1. Hi Tim,

    Right – ideas are input, innovation is output. Output is what matters in business. Of course, high quality ideas should result in high quality innovation, but my impression is we devote too much time to creativity and not enough to execution. That’s where the early “scrappy execution” can help to keep the momentum.


  2. SHIP IT!

    This is so right. We can spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and money trying to convince the world we are what we want to be, or we can focus those resources on being what we want to be and just letting the rest fall into place.

    Very timely, Tim, as the last few weeks have found me developing program curriculum for a new project. I’m eager to launch, which means I’m eager to crank this stuff out, but there’s still a voice in my head just screaming at me to go back and re-work things because they should be perfect at launch.

    To that voice, I say, “That’s what beta testers are for!”

    Cheers, mate.

  3. Good luck with the new curriculum Brian. It’s a tough battle isn’t it? Launch, adapt and iterate is not a natural process – you always have to fight yourself as much as anything else to make it work.

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