Ideas, execution and vision are big words in entrepreneurship. They constitute what most success is made of. Even so, people rarely mention them in the same sentence and tend to play favorites. “Execution is more important than ideas” is a common notion held among certain business people.
The truth is a different story. To create something of extreme success you need to give each of them equal importance. Ideas, execution and vision are in fact interdependent and because of that they can result in some amazing synergy. A good idea cannot hold its ground on its own, but combined with equally good execution and vision the resulting combination will be worth more than the sum of its parts. Let’s take a closer look:
Ideas are important. Everything around you is the result of ideas: your car, the Internet, the way your music sounds, the stitching on your IKEA couch, maybe even the air you breathe if you have an air conditioner. Then there are the more subtle things like language, social structure and even your thoughts in some very rare instances (North Korea is a candidate here). Ideas are the essence of what makes us human and what everything created by us is founded upon. This makes ideas very important.
Execute your idea with your vision in mind and build for the future; create the foundation for what your users would want your concept to be 5 years from now.
If everything around us was based on ideas then execution is what made them real. Ideas are practically useless without execution. Only thinking about ideas gives them no real value and they will remain a fragment of your imagination. Execution on the other hand is pointless without a great idea and will result in something mediocre at best. What you want to do is put your effort into executing great ideas.
Good execution takes a lot of effort. If coming up with a great idea is hard then executing it is even harder. You will need to distribute resources, develop a strategy, hire talent, learn the industry or field and work with real-world constraints. The idea might be dead simple to you while it is in your head, but imagine taking it out and placing it in front of you. While building a one-man space shuttle to take you to Mars and back might be a great idea in the future, chances are high you will be disappointed if trying to execute that today.
In addition, if your idea is complex it is likely that you do not possess the necessary skills yourself. This puts an even greater strain on execution since you need to bring in outside talent. To summarize this and quoting myself, ideas are nothing without execution, and execution is nothing without ideas.
Vision is sometimes overlooked when talking about the importance of ideas and execution. This is unfortunate because vision is what binds your ideas and execution together and completes the package. Vision is like the entrepreneurship professor who asks you uncomfortably pointed questions about your idea to make you to think:
What if someone copies you? What if demand skyrockets? How will you respond to change? What if your concept is not well received? Does your value proposition stand a chance against competition? Are you future proof?
Having vision helps you look ahead and create a long-term strategy. It also encourages you to plan for contingencies if things don’t go as planned. To create a long-term vision you need to take a step back from the smaller details and consider what type of experience your users will expect from your concept in the long run. Execute your idea with your vision in mind and build for the future; create the foundation for what your users would want your concept to be 5 years from now (the time frame depends on your industry of choice).
As an aside, Paul Graham suggests setting weekly growth rate targets. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your strategy and reallocate your resources if they do not contribute to your growth and in effect your vision.
Putting great ideas, great execution and great vision in the same box results in some impressive synergy. Each element is of little value on its own but together they are worth more than their sum. To conclude:
- A great idea is needed to draft up anything of value.
- Great execution is needed to deliver anything of value.
- Great vision is needed to sustain anything of value.