On The Value Of Ideas Vs. Execution

On The Value Of Ideas Vs. Execution

Inspiration and perspective from Silicon Valley for innovators and entrepreneurs in areas and industries outside of technology.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 18 january 2011

The ongoing effort to inform, innovate and bring to market ideas that will be valued by an audience – and generate revenue/profit – has fueled a discussion on whether ideas or their execution are more important drivers of success. We’ve even discussed it at PSFK – to a degree – with pieces like The Myth of Stolen Ideas. Contributing to the discussion is an interesting perspective by Nathaniel Whittemore at Assetmap – aptly titled Lets End the Myth that Ideas are Worthless.

While Whittemore’s piece deserves the full read, it can also be largely summarized by stating that the author believes it’s not a one or the other proposition. We cannot reduce the importance of ideas (and their inherent beliefs regarding human behavior) nor the contributions of execution in trying to grossly oversimplify creation and innovation down to a magic bullet. We simply have to recognize that a business venture or product idea will not excellence of both.

We found Whittemore’s piece to provide some additional perspective on the current entrepreneurial climate in Silicon Valley. Particularly for those looking to innovative and bring non-technical product and business ideas to market (be in big CPG or a local restaurant with a very specific concept), Silicon Valley provides some inspiration on the process of innovation and entrepreneurial ‘launch’ mentality that could serve as a resource for those with more experiential, ‘analog’ business ideas.

We culled a few notions and resources from Whittemore’s piece that could be of relevance and inspiration:

  • The Lean Startup Methodology – a highly influential intellectual force currently impacting Silicon Valley – helps startups create iterative cycles with actual customer feedback; ultimately, startups are able to achieve more effective ‘product-market fit’, or a sizable audience that truly wants to use your product.
  • The Lean Startup is credited with introducing the notion of the “pivot” – when a company makes a major, difficult shift from an old model to a revised one – into Silicon Valley’s current vocabulary.
  • Y Combinator is currently the most influential institution in the Valley, focusing on developer centric teams and rapid development that gets products to market fast. The ‘pivots’ experienced by its early stage companies are often very public and visible to the Silicon Valley community following them – representing equal opportunities for SV audience to learn from them, or to misjudge why certain things ‘failed’ without fully understanding the reasons/actions driving the idea – vs. the execution – of each idea.
  • According to Whittemore;

Ultimately, the dichotomy between idea and execution is false. Embedded in every step of execution are ideas, or put differently, assertions of belief about human behaviors. The “pivot” itself only works if the pivot is to a new idea that is good and well executed: pivoting from a bad idea to a new bad idea still leaves you in the same spot. Gmail and Friendfeed creator and new YC partner Bucheit gets a lot closer to the smart middle of this conversation with his concept of “judgement,” or the idea that much of startup “execution” is judgement about which ideas to pursue and how.

The piece also got us thinking about the packaging of ideas overall – and how, rather than accept any single idea as thesis because it comes from the lips or pen of a perceived ‘thought leader’ in any given industry, they should be digested and considered, not just as a single, defining magic bullet (i.e, curation! creating community! social!), but as one of several notions to be questioned, tested, applied and judged in order to provide consumers a product – and brand – they actually want to use and relate to.

Assetmap: ‘Let’s End the Myth That Ideas Are Worthless’


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.