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One of the big debates in the innovation space is what's more important, is it the generation of the idea, or the execution of the idea? There are complete books written about just about execution, innovation execution, and again there are complete books written about just the generation of the idea. I should know. I've written one of them. Here's my take on it is that I'm definitely more of a creationist and I admit that right up front. Here's why. I think there's a very important reason why I think the generation of the idea is so important.
If you had a choice of being great at execution or great at idea generation which would you choose? I think you have to choose idea generation and here's why. If you have just a bunch of mediocre ideas, but you're great at executing them, what do you end up with? Like I said before, you end up with a lot of well-executed mediocre ideas. That's not good. That's not, in the long term, that's just not healthy.
There's something interesting I noticed when I started to think about this question. Why do some ideas seem to get through the pipeline of the company faster than others? I figured it out. The ideas that get through the company the fastest tend to be the best ideas. Why? Think about it. The great ideas are great because everybody knows it. The great ideas tend to get the most money, they put the best people on them, they get the most management attention, and they seem to fly through the pipeline.
That's when it hit me that the mediocre ideas get bogged down in the bureaucracy, the bureaucratic antibodies come in (growls) and they eat it up, the finance people start saying, "Well, this might be a little too risky." People start questioning and challenging mediocre ideas. That happens. I know. I've lived it. I've seen it. I've seen great ideas go through. I've seen mediocre ideas slow down. I've been part of those. Here's the insight. If that's true, then if we got really good at generating ideas, then ideas stand a better chance of getting through the pipeline.
I tell the story sometimes of the time I went to Costa Rica and I watched the famous part where there were turtles. Sea turtles lay their eggs and the eggs hatch, and the little turtles have to run from the beach and try to get into the water before birds and everything come down and eat them. I think this is a great metaphor for ideas. You generate all these ideas, and the poor things are on their own. They're crawling the beach to get through the pipeline before the organization just squashes them. It's the strong ones that get off the beach and into the water and survive.
The same thing is true with ideas so by God, put your energies into learning and creating, learning how to and then creating great ideas. That's going to make you more successful in the long run than just being very good at execution.
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