Ideas vs Execution

•April 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I work in an environment full of people with tons of ideas. Very few of them are original, most having been stolen from the competition, and many doomed to failure, yet still many of these actually get pursued. I think whoever first said at a meeting “there are no bad ideas” should be forced to watch a Paris Hilton retrospective with their eyes held open like the dude in A Clockwork Orange.

I can name 3 right of the top of my head.

New Coke

Invading Iraq

Sub-prime mortgages.


The reality is that some ideas are very bad, and the morons who managed to get them green-lighted often had to go around the grown ups in the room who end up getting dragged along for the ride. But how do they do that? Well it’s not that hard – because everyone wants to back a winner, because the competition has one (even though it also has no ROI), because it’s impolite to point out that the emperor has no clothes, there are a myriad of reasons. And hey – as long as it starts off well, with a big marketing budget, some Shock and Awe, then why make a fuss?But I think the scarier thing might be that these machivellian weasels have figured out, really you just have to get hippo in the room on your side and everyone else will fall into line…

The reality is great original ideas are rare – like a solar eclipse, so most ideas should be scrutinized like an email from a Nigerian prince…

And the first question should always be – can we actually execute this?

I see a lot of money wasted on bad ideas, but probably the bigger drain is actually on resources, some “visionary” who stole his idea from a webinar, gets whole departments running around trying to make the impossible happen, pushing water uphill, so that he can look good.

One of the best phrases in the world is “the art of the possible” I always think of it as creating great things with what you have, with brilliant execution.

Often it’s not the original idea that is so potent, but the ability to take an idea and add that little extra that makes it actually a breeze to use.

Just ask Steve jobs.


Why blog, why now, why kool-aid?

•April 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’ve haven’t seen this much Kool Aid being peddled since the boom in the nineties, and at the risk of losing my “team player” status, I think someone needs to stand up and say stop the insanity! So here’s a little anti-kool-aid, and of course I have nothing against the fine beverage, or the fine lawyers which I am sure represent them.

So you ask me “Hey mister guy, who may or may not work in the new media business, is this bit torrent of Kool Aid gulping a new thing, and how can I avoid it?”

Well no young fella it isn’t, the levels of Kool Aid drinking rise and fall like the tides in the Bay of Fundy, and go back to way before your time, before you started shaving, even before that, when you got that MBA in Marketing,

There are several great examples from the first big peak in the late nineties. Remember No, oh I guess you were still an in high school, anyway someone with an insatiable appetite for VC money and trendy design decided it would be a great idea, to build a really kewl ecom site entirely in flash. Never mind that the usability was worse than a government designed CDrom and maintenance was a nightmare.

At the time I remember talking to a one of those flashinthecan kids and him saying with a straight face that he could see all sites being built in flash one day – and note to above mentioned lawyers – he was actually drinking beer at the time. And sober!

As recently as last year I was at an agency presentation and they were still talking about opening stores in Second Life (ya big ROI there), and the current flavour du jour now seems to be Social Media. Ya lets remind everyone that rather than be on our site they could be cyberstalking that cheerleader from high school and throwing virtual pizzas at her (maybe that’ll make her LOL and lift that restraining order). I mean really, lets remind users of your site that rather than doing something useful online, they could be wasting hours on facebook, or digg, or squidoo. And ya that’s what prepubescents are interested in, adding that retirement calculator widgit to their page. I know the new VP is behind it ever since a week ago when he joined to see what his daughter was up to (dating frat boys), so it must be a good idea!

But I digress, the important thing my young friend is to remain vigilant, and return often to find where the latest outbreak of gullibility, bad online strategy and rampant marketing budget-wasting is happening.