Idea Box: Execution Is Better Than Innovation
Innovation is a goal of many companies. But it has little value in and of itself. It is only when coupled with good execution that it brings benefits.
Date Posted: 9/1/2012
Innovation is a word that is used a lot in business circles these days. It is often held up as the ultimate goal of many companies. However, innovation in and of itself is nothing more than an idea. And though ideas sound good and even look good on paper, they are of no use to a company unless they are executed well. Coming up with a good idea does absolutely nothing to help a company. What helps a company grow is the successful execution of a good idea. Any company that strives simply to be innovative will have trouble if they do not carry through on the implementation of that innovation. So what are some ways to focus more on execution than on innovation?
• Be careful of spending so much time coming up with new ideas that it inhibits follow through. Brainstorming and dreaming is much more fun than getting down to the nitty gritty details and actually working out a new plan. The American inventor Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” If your company often talks about new ideas but seldom gets very far with any of them, make a point of focusing on one idea for a while. Research the pros and cons and find out if it would be a good fit. If not, throw it out and start with a new one.
• Look for business areas that already have great ideas, but poor execution. Then do a better job of executing the ideas that are out there. This probably will not be a quick, easy process. If it was, others would have already done it. Executing a good idea well means putting in the work of dealing with costing, logistics and other details. But it is this work that will enable you to successfully implement the idea.
• Do not focus too much on being the first. If you are not the first company to try a new idea, that is all right. In fact, it may give you an advantage. One of the best ways to successfully execute an idea is to study the successes and failures that other companies have had with the idea that you are considering. Do not copy an idea simply because it has been done, but study why it succeeded for one company and why it failed for another. Using this information, you can determine what is needed to successfully implement the idea for yourself.
• Have a plan and set incremental goals that are clear and attainable. When planning how to implement an idea, avoid big, flashy words that do not specifically state what the purpose is. In other words, don’t try to make the idea sound as innovative as you possibly can. In order to execute an idea, those responsible for it need to understand what exactly it is that they are doing. For example, instead of just telling your employees that you want to lower the company’s carbon footprint by 50%, tell them to turn off the lights when they leave the break room and to put all wood scraps in the recycling pile, not the trash bin.
• Always remember that innovation should not be the goal. Execution should be.
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