I’m getting tired of reading, “ideas are worthless.”
Here’s the argument: Ideas are worthless unless acted upon/executed.
I can’t disagree more.
People say ideas are worthless because:
* Everyone has them (I say, “who cares?”)
* A great idea is nothing without great execution (I say, “not true.”)
* A mediocre idea can be successful with great execution (This is true)
* Value is generated through a risk/reward ratio. Ideas have no risk, so they can’t lead to a reward (I totally disagree)
I think ideas have immense value — they feed our creative spirit. Someone with a new idea comes alive with excitement. It bubbles inside them like a super fizzy drink. Sure, most of the time the idea will fizz out, but who cares; the idea creation process, the brainstorming, the creative vibe of coming up with an idea is extremely valuable.
Ideas are a Dime a Dozen…So What?
It’s true: everyone has ideas. And your point is what exactly? The very fact that everyone has ideas should tell you how valuable they really are. And even though you may have a million ideas in your lifetime that go nowhere, there’s a chance you’ll have one idea that becomes more than just an idea. Should we all stop having ideas because they’re “worthless” and don’t instantly make money?
Yes, Execution is Important, But the Idea Came First
I agree with people that say “execution is key.” Some great ideas never go anywhere because of poor execution. And crappy ideas can make millions because of brilliant execution. Sure, that’s true, but that doesn’t disqualify or disprove the value of ideas themselves. It just proves that execution is extremely important if we’re measuring the success of an idea in terms of it going beyond the “idea stage.” But diminishing the creative process, the “idea stage” itself, is a mistake.
And even if you want to get past the “fluffy nonsense” about creative-this and creative-that, think about how idea generation can help your business even if the ideas don’t happen – here’s one:
* Ideas create communication. Try some brainstorming sessions, see what comes out of it. I guarantee you’ll get something of value – be it a usable idea, employees that appreciate being heard, a better feeling of togetherness amongst the team…(all of which can improve performance, and your bottomline.)
Ideas Have No Risk? Says Who?
Ideas can be insanely risky. People have been thrown in jail, tortured and murdered for the ideas in their heads. The execution (good, bad or barely in existence) may not even be relevant.
From a corporate level, ideas can be risky too. Employees may have an idea that’s perceived as criticism. The corporate culture may not foster idea generation/discussion, so people see it as risky to present ideas. “Will my boss think it’s a stupid idea?”
Just like people say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” I would say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid idea.” (In actual fact, I think there are stupid questions and there can be stupid ideas: but they might still be valuable.)
Here’s what ideas do:
* Ideas help us be more creative. Coming up with ideas is a creative process that feeds upon itself, generating more creativity.
* Ideas lead to change. Execution is still important (often from brave people), but without those that dare to dream, we’d be nowhere.
* Ideas foster communication. Whether this is in a brainstorming session, or sharing your idea with friends, ideas give people a reason to communicate.
* Ideas are the birthplace of businesses. You can’t start a business without the idea first.
* Ideas beget more ideas. One idea leads to another, which leads to another. At some point, you may find an idea that you want to truly pursue, but you might not get there before going through fifty ideas first.
* Ideas foster enthusiasm. When someone has an idea they think could be pursued it creates a spark of excitement. Sure, the idea may never be pursued, but that spark of excitement is still valuable. And yes, when an idea is not pursued it might lead to disappointment, but I say the excitement outweighs the disappointment.
Ideas are not worthless.
Now, if you want to pursue an idea beyond its initial stages then you need to look at the advice the “ideas are worthless” crowd constantly gives (although they give it as an argument for why ideas are worthless, which isn’t true, but I agree with this adivce):
* Execution is key. How can I pull this off? Who would I need to help me? How would I fund it?
* Share your idea. If you don’t share it, you can’t get other people’s perspectives, and you may be blinded by your own belief in the idea. Plus, getting feedback is always worthwhile. Just know how to ask for it.
* Think about value and problem solving. What value are you bringing to the table? What problem are you solving? (Note: I don’t think you have to solve a problem for your business to be successful, but that’s another story.)
* Sit on the idea, let it grow. An idea pops in your head. It’s a good idea to let it sit there, grow, evolve.
* Research. Find your competitors, understand your industry and research every single aspect of the business and the business environment.
All of these points are critical to taking an idea to the next level. But none of them prove that an idea is worthless.
In the spirit of providing the “other side” here’s some links I found while searching Google for “ideas are worthless”: