How we do things: Ideas vs. Implementations

The current tech world is very much focused on startups and starting. There are many occasions to talk about ideas, and there will be one person with the following wisdom: “Ideas have no value, the value lies in the implementation.” This seems to be correct by intuition, but even if something is intuitive, you still have to prove it. That is why I want to explore how we, as humans, change our world.

Problems, Ideas, and Action

Before I start, I want to give you the definition of the words I am using here. The explanation of meaning is an essential part of any discussion, to limit false interpretation. As an example, I will use a stench in a new carpet. This example is not tech related because I want to make clear, that this approach to problem-solving is general purpose and not specialized.

Problem

A problem in the context of this blog post is a situation in need of transformation. We want to transform our rug with a stench, into a clean carpet. People share problems, but what is a problem to one person, is not necessarily an issue for others. The ability to understand problems by empathy is vital if you want to create value for customers.

Idea

Ideas are mental models of the needed steps to create a possible transformation.

Finding an idea is not trivial you need to collect tools in your mind and know how they will affect the situation. That is why experience makes you more effective; you understand more tools and how they work. This is also what is limiting the creativity of senior people; they have mechanic reactions to problems they already solved.

In our example, the idea is the concrete detergent, and the kind of brush you need and how to use it to work the detergent into the carpet.

Implementation

The implementation is everything you do, to manifests your idea into reality. In our example, the implementation is to apply the detergent with the brush on the carpet physically.

(Even though software is digital, it is an implementation too. Computer although we think about them as digital, are physical machines, the switches we make them flip are just pretty puny.)

This is all we do

diagram01

This is how life works for you and me. Are you hungry? Better get an idea about what to eat and then eat it. Existence is iterative and recursive. So far we can see that ideas and implementations are both necessary to solve a problem. To find out which one is more important we need to explore a little more: To the Venn Diagram:

diagram02

We have four overlaps

  • Problem & Idea
  • Problem & Implementation
  • Idea & Implementation
  • Problem, Idea & Implementation

Problem & Idea

If you have the problem and the idea, but no way (or no will) to implement it, you cannot manifest something into reality, and therefore, you have nothing – you are helpless to solve the problem.
This is what the people who think ideas are not important are all about and what procrastination does to you.

Problem & Implementation

If you do not need an idea to transform a problem with an implementation, the problem is already solved with obvious, known solutions. The result is a mechanic response. Many animals do not have ideas; ants only have problems and implementations available.

If you want to put a nail into a wall, you do not need an idea about how to solve the problem; you will grab the hammer and hit the nail. If you do not have the hammer, then you will need an idea again.

One could say a solution is a mechanic if the mental model is instant and requires no critical thinking. If you try to compete with such a response to a problem, think hard about why we settled on this solution – because establishing a new way to solve such a problem will me expensive.

Idea & Implementation

Sometimes you have an idea and create actions to manifest the idea, without a problem to solve. If the implementation is fun, you created a game or a toy. You can create useful things this way if you can find a problem your approach will solve, but this is a random approach and risky.

Problem, Idea & Implementation

This is labeled as “intelligent” because this is what intelligence is in essence: The ability to understand a problem, create a mental model about how it could be solved and finally the implementation of this idea.

IQ Tests work that way. They explain (teach) you some problems, and you have to understand them, develop an idea how to solve them and implement your plan to get the correct solution, over and over again with more complicated versions of the issue. The faster you can work thru them, the higher your IQ is. (This is how I came up with the diagram.)

Conclusion

If you only have an idea but no problem and no implementation, the idea is actually without value to you at the moment.
You cannot only have an implementation, to create anything from scratch, you also need an idea. The sole ability to implement anything possible is as worthless as ideas on their own are. You can find problems and implementations for your idea later down the road, you can meet someone who comes up with solutions, and you can partner up to create something.

It seems ideas could be the winner, but in truth, this is not how the world works. No one is just able to have ideas or to create implementations, but people have different strengths. Some people are very creative and progressive, and others are good at implementing and maintaining things. These people need to meet.

The value of either ideas or implementations comes from combining both. Take your idea to someone who can implement it and share the fame – you need each other.

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