Ideas are just a multiplier of execution

Money making ideas

An old entry I came across from Derek Sivers

Never been truer – it should be carved into the walls of every R&D/NPD dept. as well as every startup.

“It’s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign an NDA to tell me the simplest idea.)

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed.

They are just a multiplier.

Execution is worth millions.


SO-SO- EXECUTION = $10,000
GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.
The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.
That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas.
I’m not interested until I see their execution.”


Cognitive Surplus

Screen shot 2012 01 12 at 19 03 48

Knitted brain from here

A plug.

With the publication of Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky available to buy here I thought that gave me the right to post the text of a speech he gave which I re-read often.

It’s called Gin, Television and Social Surplus from the Web 2.0 conference in 2008. It’s what “here comes everybody” is all about at it’s heart and it obviously led to Cognitive Surplus.

I re-read it because it reminds me:

Wikipedia = 100million hours of thought and by that reckoning we spend 2.000 Wikipedia projects a year watching television.

World of Warcraft Guilds – Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves – at least they’re doing something.

The things we can do and make doesn’t mean that we’ll never sit around mindlessly watching Scrubs on the couch. It just means we’ll do it less.

“We’re going to look at every place that a reader or a listener or a viewer or a user has been locked out, has been served up passive or a fixed or a canned experience, and ask ourselves, “If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen?” And I’m betting the answer is yes.”

Count me in.

Text follows: Read the rest of this entry »


Entrepreneur 001

I spent quite a lot of time working on what the “Entrepreneurial organisation” is like. One of the key lessons from studying entrepreneurs is how they think, and the word for that is Effectual rather than Causal. What follows is extracts from my notes, particularly on a 2001 University of Washington Paper by Dr. Saras Saravasthy about what makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial.

Effectuation as a process involves using available resources in creative ways to reach a goal, iterating on strategy (and sometimes the goal itself) as the landscape and competition changes and doing all this with minimal risk (think car sharing via Zipcar instead of buying a new BMW). In contrast, causal thinkers make plans and struggle to stick to them for better or worse, which means they may be missing out on unforeseen opportunities.

Dr. Saravasthy provides an in-depth look at the entrepreneurial mindset. Effectuation, or effectual thinking, is the inverse of causal thinking. His theory is that effectual thinkers will tend to outperform causal thinkers in the early stages of entrepreneurship.

“Causal rationality begins with a pre-determined goal and a given set of means, and seeks to identify the optimal – fastest, cheapest, most efficient, etc. – alternative to achieve the given goal,”. In other words, it means making a plan, putting the plan into action to achieve a specific end.

This does not mean inflexibility; the person may select a number of creative ways to do what he wants. The goal, however, remains the same.

Effectual thinking is completely different.”It begins with a given set of means and allows goals to emerge contingently over time from the varied imagination and diverse aspirations of the founders and the people they interact with.” In contrast to causal thinking, the goal is not specific at the start of the process.

The goals depend on what the person has, which is to say: 1) who they are—their traits, tastes and abilities; 2) what they know—their education, training, expertise, and experience; and, 3) whom they know–their social and professional networks.

I like this diagram to explain it:


The difference between the causal and effectual thinker is much like two different writing styles of authors.

Causal writers plot out their stories rigidly from Point A in order to reach the eventual, projected end of Point B.

Effectual writers, however, are more like chess players: they take stock of their characters, understand the situation and the complication involved, and from there select from any number of possibilities available. What drives the story therefore is not by plot but character and circumstance. The outcome is entirely dependent on what is, not on what should be. More often than not, the result is something completely unexpected, which can be exciting for audience and author alike.

There is another difference between causal and effectual schools of thought. While causal thinkers prepare elaborate planning followed by action, effectual thinkers are for the most part all about action. “Plans are made and unmade and revised and recast through action and interaction with others on a daily basis,”

This is not to say that entrepreneurs do not use causal thinking at all. The best in business know how to use both kinds of reasoning.
However, at the start of a new venture, where resources are few and finite, talented entrepreneurs prefer to use effectual reasoning “arguably, most entrepreneurs do not transition well into latter stages requiring more causal reasoning.”

Entrepreneurs who have innate talents at effectual thinking or who cultivate their effectuation talents over time will benefit in two distinct ways:

• First, effectual thinking is utterly creative. Whereas casual thinkers may find themselves banging their heads against the proverbial wall trying to reach their intended goal, effectual thinkers may find many ways to go over, under, around and through it, perhaps even ignore the path altogether. Because effectual thinkers are not shackled to a single goal, they may find success in an unexpected time and direction.

• Second, effectual thinking embodies the attributes that make entrepreneurs successful: creativity, resilience, good use of limited resources, and pure and simple guts. Effectual entrepreneurs do not try to predict the future; through sheer human will, they attempt to create it.
Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke once wrote that “Plans never survive the first engagement with the enemy.”
Successful entrepreneurs recognize and accept this truism. Through effectuation, they adapt on the fly to achieve ever-changing goals.

Choosing simple design isn’t always so simple


See the whole interactive panorama at Gilles Vidal’s photography site

Designing for the mobile is often seen as a process of simplification or an effort to “strip out functionality to the core essence of the service.”

Simplicity in design should be a given but is the process of ‘mobilization not miniaturisation” as straightforward?

Interesting perspective here which raises some very good thoughts.

In essence a highly complex functional product can have a “clean” interface – think Google or a product with few features can look cluttered – think Craigslist.

Interestingly portals, dashboards etc. can look very cluttered but are made up of simple elements (see pic above!) The key to making these systems easy to use is to work on matching displays to mental models, and training users on the proper mental models.

Given that growth is inevitable due to added functionality or scale (discuss? – actually I don’t agree with that) an original clean interface may simply stop working. But then pushing things too far to simplify may mean that users are unable to complete their key goals.

This puts it quite well.


Mobile driving innovation


Pic courtesy of ifixit

One of the many reasons that I choose to work with mobile technology is that it is often at the leading edge of disruption and transformation.

This is especially true of the travel industry (as I have commented here).

However, Techcrunch has a piece showing that mobile innovation is blowing away pc’s. Rapid advancement in mobile is often attributed to the natural disruption by which emerging industries innovate quickly, while established markets like PCs follow a slower, more sustained trajectory.

However, the article discusses “deeper fundamentals driving the breathtaking pace of smartphone advancement. Component vendors supplying to smartphone OEMs have evolved a much different DNA than those supplying to PC makers. Smartphones are an evolution of embedded systems, not PCs, and embedded markets have long favored vendors who don’t simply provide the most highly integrated chipsets, but who can also partner with OEMs to drive system-level integration and software at a rapid pace.”

For example, in terms of hardware/chipset integration “smartphone vendors have traditionally competed in a much more fragmented supply chain, integrating at a breakneck pace just to survive.  Today’s 3G wireless chipsets integrate GPS, Bluetooth, and 802.11n on a single chip. ”

At systems level “Dozens of component vendors fight each other to the death to win designs at smartphone OEMs. This competitive dynamic forms an entirely different basis for how component vendors approach system integration and support.”

On the software platform everyone is following Apple’s lead and Google seems committed to moving their OS forward. In addition “The competitive interplay between Apple and Google will continue to help smartphone software outpace PCs. But iOS and Android also benefit wildly from the structure of the smartphone industry. Apple and Google are pushed not just by each other, but by the symbiotic advancement in chipsets and the system integration work of component vendors”

Mobile IS Local


Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine puts the location being at the heart of the mobile experience very well.

So here’s the key parts of it.

“The winner in local will be the one that knows more about what’s around me right now. Using my smartphone’s GPS and maps—or using Google Googles to simply take a picture of, say, a club on the corner—I can ask the web what it knows about that place. Are any of my friends there now? (Foursquare or Gowalla or soon Facebook and Twitter and Google Buzz could tell me.) Do my friends like the place? (Facebook and Yelp have the answer.) Show me pictures and video from inside (that’s just geo-tagged content from Flickr and YouTube). Show me government data on the place (any health violations or arrests? Everyblock has that). What band is playing there tonight? Let me hear them. Let me buy their music. What’s on the menu? What’s the most popular dish? Give me coupons and bargains. OK, now I’ll tell my friends (on Twitter and Facebook) that I’m there and they’ll follow”

To do all this, Google—or the next Google—needs two things: First, it needs more data; it needs us to annotate the world with information (if Google can’t find this data elsewhere on the web, it will create the means for us to generate it). Second, Google needs to know more about us—it needs more signals such as location, usage history, and social networks—so it can make its services more relevant to us.

Evolution and Creativity – why humans triumphed

Evolution stop following

“Nothing seems to explain the sudden takeoff of the last 45,000 years—the conversion of just another rare predatory ape into a planet dominator with rapidly progressing technologies. Once “progress” started to produce new tools, different ways of life and burgeoning populations, it accelerated all over the world, culminating in agriculture, cities, literacy and all the rest. Yet all the ingredients of human success—tool making, big brains, culture, fire, even language—seem to have been in place half a million years before and nothing happened.”

Well this does: Collective Intelligence – The amount of interaction between individuals – basically ideas having sex with each other. Trade as an innovation was then a multiplier of this – “Trade was the most momentous innovation of the human species; it led to the invention of invention.”

Human beings swapping things and thoughts.

However, I don’t completely agree.

“Given that progress is inexorable, cumulative and collective if human beings exchange and specialize, then globalization and the Internet are bound to ensure furious economic progress in the coming century”

We must be clear that ‘The Internet’ doesn’t mean Facebook, Google, Amazon etc. which it seems to mea are having the opposite effect…

Original article here