There’s no such thing as a bad idea, just bad execution - Russ Taplin, Mmm Thoughtful Business

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We can spend a lot of time either worrying why we can’t come up with a good idea, or whether our idea is in fact a good one. This can frustrate us, lock up our thinking, and ultimately slow us down or completely stop us moving forward with our ‘something’.

What if I told you that didn’t matter? What if I said that to get the best idea you have to stop looking for the best idea?

Now I know there will be plenty of you saying – “How?! You have to have a good idea otherwise it won’t work!”. This is true in some cases. But what is true in all cases, is that even a good idea won’t work if you don’t follow through and do it well – if your idea is not executed well.

And let me ask you a question – how many times have you said to yourself, “Why on earth did they do that?” or “How on earth did they come up with that?” But only to see it become successful, leaving you wondering. How many times have you also said “That’s a great idea! We need that!” only to watch from the outside and see it fail. Worse still, how many times have you had an idea, but dismissed it through your own doubts or the words of naysayers and then seen someone else do it with great style and grace. Thought so, you’ve had all these happen to you too.

I remember my first camera phone, it was a Sony Ericsson circa 2002. The camera clipped into a separate port at the bottom of the phone and took a grainy image that bore some resemblance to what it was pointed at. What was nice was that Sony gave you a strap to attach the camera to, and you could wear it round your neck or clip it to your bag or belt, ready to be unclipped at the first available photo opportunity – a nice touch. It featured in a James Bond film so you can imagine it had awesome marketing (Pierce Brosnan, yes it was that long ago…). At the time I remember everyone saying, seriously why? We use our phones to call and text and we have a camera to take pictures. I didn’t even know how to get the pictures off the phone (or if I even had the space to take more than three or four pictures anyway). I bought one, the camera is still knocking about the garage or kitchen draw, somewhere. It was an awful idea, right?

At the time everyone thought it was nuts. I have no doubt the mobile industry at that time knew what it was doing, but somewhere in that journey somebody had to say “Hey, we should put a camera in a phone and make it do music too!” And I bet someone else said “Erm why?!”

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It’s also a fair assumption that at some point everyone who has had a great idea was thought to be a little nuts by someone else. The thing is, that naysayers and critics can have valuable input, so they should be listened to – but here’s the thing, that doesn’t mean you’ve got an idea that won’t work, or that you should stop, it just means that you now have valuable feedback with which to improve it. You have an insight into what others might think or feel about your ‘something’. Use that.

Your idea likely started as either a solution or to introduce something new to the world – your why. To get it past the idea stage to the execution stage you now need to plan out the what and the how – the why should stay the same, but the what and how can always change to better answer the idea you have, or the feedback you get. I always think of the flow in terms of these three statements:

  1. In order to… (Why – that’s your inspiration)

  2. We are going to… (What – here you need the insight)

  3. By doing… (How – and now you need the wisdom and the plan)

There are more points after this (we will not do… for example), but these will do for now.

In my experience, most things fail on 3 – either because things go wrong tactically, and of course that’s why the wisdom is needed, or because the insight in 2 hasn’t been listened to and so adjusted to make whatever idea it was a better one.

In short, to deliver the best idea you have to stop looking for the best idea and worry about how well you execute it. Then make it better.

Russ Taplin,, March 2019