“An idea not implemented is no idea at all.” Louis Kahn

I was reminded at Big Omaha 2011 of my disagreement with Kahn’s quote when some presenters suggested that ideas were the easy element to come by for an entrepreneurial endeavor; that it was the “doing” element that was vital. The stress on implementing your vision or creative concept certainly has merit, but I felt that a few of the presenters gave too little credit to the innovative and critical thinking component.

To me, Kahn’s statement renders to an abstract concept no fundamental value unless it is brought to some tangible manifestation. Similarly, what was somewhat uncomfortable for me about the emphasis on execution offered by a few of the Big Omaha presenters was the apparent cheapening of the worth of the founding insight or idea by placing the credit firmly with implementation.

That lop sided balance, favoring execution, does a disservice to the stature of the idea. If one considers Gallup’s findings through its Strengths Finder research, only 1 in tens of thousands of people possess the specific combinations of dominant Strengths that would relate to the visioning and ideation skills necessary to identify and articulate abstract ideas.

This emphasis on one part of the entrepreneurial dynamic also fails to allow for the potency inherent in conversation as a facilitator of innovation. Elsewhere in these pages I have referenced conversation’s essential role in opening us to the formerly unknown concepts that are iteratively arrived at, or its ability to allow us to sidle up incrementally to increasingly challenging reflections. Moreover, as those in a variety of history’s salons or clubs will attest, the person generating the idea and the person effecting the idea need not be the same. Effective teams require mutual collaborative respect, which cannot be authentic where one part of this tandem is regarded as inferior.

As I reflect on these observations (and my biases as an ideator not implementer), it leaves me wondering how innovators, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and philosophers consider the balance between the creative ideation and the business execution to any entrepreneurial activity. Any thoughts?

In the subsequent parts to this post series, I will mention other areas of entrepreneurship where idea generation through conversation is the catalyst to the endeavor.