Why Great Ideas Are Usually Worthless
Most people believe that success results from having great ideas. I beg to differ. In the real world of business, great ideas are almost irrelevant. What's important is the ability to to implement and execute. Allow me to explain.
1. Great ideas are dime-a-dozen.
Everybody in the world has at least one "great idea" for a new business, a new product or a new way of doing things. There are millions of great ideas floating around; some companies are so full of them that they gum up the works.
2. Great ideas are seldom unique.
Great ideas emerge out of the culture and environment as much as from human creativity. If you've got a "great idea," 10 other people in ten other companies were probably having the same idea at the exact same time.
3. Great ideas aren't real until fleshed out.
An idea is mental fluff until it's expanded upon to the point where it becomes possible to do something with it. In business as in life, the devil is in the details and when it comes to ideas, those details are far more important than the idea itself.
4. Great ideas aren't products.
Here's an idea: "Two teenagers from feuding families fall in love but end up accidentally committing suicide in a botched attempt to elope." Here's the product: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Big difference, eh? (BTW, he stole that idea.)
5. Ideas are meaningless until implemented.
Even the best ideas have no value until somebody makes them real. For example, the idea of a keyboardless tablet computer has been around since the 1960s. However, it didn't become a reality until Apple figured out how to make one that people wanted to use.
6. Successful ideas are mostly retreads.
In the real world, success comes to the company who implements and executes an exisiting idea best, not to the company that had the best idea. Consider: Facebook, Google, the Apple Macintosh, and Microsoft Office are all based on pre-existing ideas.
In other words, success doesn't result from great ideas. It results from the ability--uncommon in the world but common to entrepreneurs--of turning an idea (whether yours or somebody else's) into reality.
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GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.