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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Too many people are ideating, not enough are executing

Here is a pet peeve of mine that is strong enough to actually wake up this blog from hibernation.

I've been seeing this "ideating" word being tossed around as the new cool thing. Every event now seems to have an ideation workshop or innovation workshop. We've been doing innovation jams at for ages now. This weekend we had an IdeaCamp event here in Chennai.

These days even organizations like Nasscom and CII are jumping on the ideation bandwagon.

The premise is simple: get a bunch of people together, bounce ideas off the crowd and make it better.

As an entrepreneur, I find these sessions seriously turning off. I used to be excited about them, but not anymore.

Invariably no one brings up the hard questions: Whats the market for this idea? How will you price it? Are there any competitors? How much will it cost to build? How will you fund it?

And finally, when the event is over everyone forgets the idea and gets back to normal work.

Count up all the ideas from all the innovation jams, ideation sessions, BarCamps, IdeaCamps over the last four years... then count out how many have been executed on. My guess is zero.

The ideas are basically dead on arrival.

So why do we have so many ideation sessions?

Its fun. Its collaborative. And everyone likes to escape from the present and imagine the future. Execution is hard, and execution is definitely not-fun. Ideation is instantaneous, and best of all free! I feel sorry for execution - its hard, long, time consuming, and expensive :(

But lets face it: ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is what counts.

Everyone remembers Edison's quote: Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

So, how about we stop ideating and start executing?


Sanjeev Kumar Dangi said...

Ideation glorify things and execution clarify things.

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

if blogger gave me a +1 button i would have done a hundred clicks on it. bang on target. :)

Solomon said...

It is easier to ideate, maybe it is not so easy to bring up the hard questions: What’s the market for this idea? How will you price it? Are there any competitors? How much will it cost to build? Then what.. Who will fund it? Every venture capitalist or an angel is asking the question what is your investment in it.. Where will a middle class working professional go for the initial investment? Especially when the professional does not have any option for providing security, who is going to fund it? Who is willing to fund it? Despite having highly workable project many like me are not able to secure funds except for getting a reply if we have to invest in this project what is the guarantee that you will not find another job and run away. The concept of sweat equity doesn’t work because our investors don’t allow it to work. If this is going to happen the ideas will continue to remain ideas and will not see the light.

Anonymous said...

> So, how about we stop ideating and start executing?

hmm ... sounds like a good idea ;-(

Vijay Anand said...

There is another side to it:

Have you noticed how in most of these sessions, the ideas are still rather shallow and suck? Most of these ideas dont excite anyone to go and do anything about it - not even the ideator. Which says two things:

1. We are not really ideators. Most of the IT crowd has been used to being told what to do. In which case more of these sessions actually help.

2. We need a much better bunch of people to get depth in these ideas, and during these sessions themselves shape them into something - something which helps the idea get some shape that the ideator or someone will do something abt it.

Siddhi said...

Also, unless you are talking about yet more ideas for consumer + web2.0 space, it is useless presenting ideas to the general public - you need people from the problem domain.

For instance, if you are creating a product for patent lawyers, then whats the use of presenting it to me? I will come up with dumb suggestions like twitter integration. 99.9% of interesting ideas are in niche domains like this.