This post is the thirty-sixth part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series can be found on the series landing page.
This post is about how organizations and people plant ideas.
I made up another word. I believe this word describes the different ways in which companies grow and mature ideas in financial and capability terms.
I base the categories that follow on a parable recorded in Luke 8:4-15. If that offends you you’re reading the wrong stuff – a lot of what I’ve posted in this series is related to my beliefs. I condemn no one for differing beliefs; I merely recognize them as different (please see the conclusion of Right, Wrong, and Style).
In the parable a sower is sowing seed. The results? In some measure, the seeds are:
- Trampled and consumed
- Grow fast and wither
I choose to apply this parable to ideas for the sake of this post; and this is all my opinion, for better or worse. I compare the seeds to ideas and the soil to execution of these ideas.
Trampled and Consumed
These ideas fell beside the road. They never reached the target – rich soil in which they could thrive. People trampled the ideas and nature consumed them. Dead ideas are a waste.
Some of these ideas were dead or fruitless; this much is true. There is a certain percentage of ideas that fall into the category of Useless. But many of them were great ideas and would’ve produced a rich return if only they’d hit pay dirt. They were ignored to death, or taken by others. Stolen ideas fall into this category, as do ideas never fully developed by the original sower. Others take them and use them for their purposes – perhaps others improve the ideas, perhaps they merely implement them successfully.
I wish to point out that these ideas often succeed eventually. Without being graphically unpleasant, I ask: Have you ever observed a fence line out in the country? You have to read Luke 8:5 to get this…
These ideas landed on rocky soil with just enough dirt to get them started, but withered as soon as the moisture was drawn from that soil. In other words, they were unsustainable. Were they good ideas? Maybe – probably so. But they weren’t planted in a good spot. They were not executed properly. They sprung up and looked good, but the heat of the day took them out.
Note that heat comes from the sun and sunlight is required to grow seeds into healthy plants. These ideas died of natural causes.
Other ideas land in a space filled with existing ideas. The older ideas have already been executed and are ahead of the new ideas in maturity. The existing ideas are consuming the vital resources needed for idea execution, and they choke out the new idea; thwarting its growth initially, and eventually killing it.
I’ve heard this story repeatedly: A company starts up a new division by hiring a team and tasking them with breaking into a new market. The individuals on the team have experience in the market so this makes perfect sense – bring in people with experience to get things started relatively quickly. The team identifies and prioritizes a list of things the company needs to do to break into the new market. At the top of the list is a better pricing strategy – read: “we’re charging too much; we need to charge less.” The company rejects this advice and loses an early bid. Because the early bid is lost, the company questions the effectiveness of the team and begins reconsidering breaking into the market.
This is a choked idea.
Some ideas are executed successfully. In fact, they are wildly successful and yield 100x the original investment of time and resources. I understand this is how venture capitalists think. They invest knowing some percentage of the companies will fail. But the companies that succeed more than make up for the failures.
Successfully executed ideas require two general things: the ideas have to be good and they have to be executed successfully. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the framework for shipping.
Technical ideas grow techganically. There’s a cycle that includes planting, nurturing, and harvest. Every good idea requires good planting (execution) to be successful.