I used to love ideas. I could daydream with the best of them (and on occasion still do). But the act of taking DigMyData (originally BigBrassBand) from idea to concept to beta to early product and eventually to a mature product and company has shown me that ideas are a minuscule part of launching and running a business. Effort, patience, and determination are what pulls it all together (wish I had much more of all three of those).
Hugo Lindgren, the editor of the NY Times Magazine, writes:
Ideas, in a sense, are overrated. Of course, you need good ones, but at this point in our supersaturated culture, precious few are so novel that nobody else has ever thought of them before. It’s really about where you take the idea, and how committed you are to solving the endless problems that come up in the execution. The more I experienced this frustration firsthand, the more I came to appreciate how naturally suited I am to the job I used to think I never wanted to have when I grew up. Magazines give me a healthy, satisfying amount of creative license, as well as a very defined responsibility. Journalism keeps my imagination from flying off into the ether. At the core of everything is reporting, a real event. And editing allows me to collaborate with people whose talents make up for my weaknesses, especially writers who don’t seize up at the sight of a blinking cursor.
Mr. Lindgren goes on to describe how John Lasseter of Pixar creates movies:
Pixar’s in-house theory is: Be wrong as fast as you can. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process, so get right down to it and start making them. Even great ideas are wrecked on the road to fruition and then have to be painstakingly reconstructed. “Every Pixar film was the worst motion picture ever made at one time or another,” Lasseter said. “People don’t believe that, but it’s true. But we don’t give up on the films.”
Ideas are wonderful – but they are only the beginning. Go be wrong! (and then do it right)