Idea or Execution?

by EZDynamic |
Mar 21, 2022 |
Idea or Execution

Idea or Execution?

by | Mar 21, 2022

Idea vs. Execution – a time honored debate, really. A bit like the ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’ question.

“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” – STEVE JOBS


“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.” – John F. Kennedy

Have you heard of Gary Dahl?

Gary became a millionaire selling rocks. Yes. Rocks.
This dates back to the 80s when Gary Dahl was at a bar listening to his friends complain about their pets. They were going on about how pets need to be fed, walked, bathed and groomed. That they can be disobedient, become sick, and eventually die. Gary, in typical alcohol-driven humor quipped that he had a ‘pet’ rock! He joked that they were the perfect pets and kept building his story of how his rock is a better pet than the real thing.

An idea was born! For the perfect “pet” – a rock!!!!! He started thinking about the idea a bit more seriously. Being young and with not much to lose, he put his creative & marketing skills behind the idea and thought about how he could turn it into something worthwhile. He ended up creating a 32-page instruction manual filled with puns and gags that referred to the rock as an actual pet. Then packaged it in a colorful box that had holes so your pet rock can “breathe”. The fad caught on!

Dahl sold over 5 million Pet Rocks for $3.95 each! Do the math!

The trend faded quickly, but Pet Rocks are, still to this day, considered one of the most successful novelty gifts of all time and it made Dahl an overnight millionaire.

Moral of the story – a great idea is a good place to start, but great execution may allow you to become a millionaire, even if your idea is to sell rocks!!! Being facetious here but there is a point to be made that poor execution of a really great idea will not go anywhere and will tank even before it starts.

As a consultant for the financial services sector, for us at EZDynamic, the question we ask ourselves is, which one tilts the scale – is it the idea OR the execution of the idea? Are the necessarily exclusive or do they go hand-in-hand? Our thought process on this, crafts the way we advise our clients, many of whom are financial start-ups.

Let’s look at a couple of examples from financial services:

Online Payments
One of the most popular online payment gateways, Stripe is used by eCommerce businesses all over the world. Unlike PayPal, another leading online payment company, Stripe focuses on digital businesses rather than on the consumers. The key to the success of this fintech app is its simplicity of integration. Patrick and John Collison, the brothers who co-founded Stripe, recognized how much hassle web developers had to go through when adding a payment system to the site. As a response, they focused on making the setup as easy as possible and adding relevant development tools that quickly transformed Stripe into a $36 billion fintech giant.

This is an example of an idea that existed. Market insight helped to add-on to the original idea through execution.

Personal Finance
The 2014 police shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted Wole Coaxum to leave his two-decade banking career (he was a senior VP at JPMorgan Chase) to work on economic solutions to inequality. In 2015 he started MoCaFi, which aims to reach underserved communities by teaming with local governments. Its app provides fee-free direct deposit, ATM withdrawals and a debit card that gives users access to partnered city services like discounted transit fares. Backed by Mastercard and Citi, MoCaFi is in the process of amping up its user-base and financially empowering an under-served segment.

And here is an example of an idea to address a completely new demographic. Success would certainly depend on how the idea is executed but success is a given for a well-executed idea due to a first mover advantage.

Our take at EZDynamic is that Idea or Execution are not mutually exclusive constructs. You can’t execute without an idea, and the idea is almost worthless without an execution. To use a metaphor, an idea is like a racetrack, while execution is the runner. While no one ever speaks of the racetrack, if the fastest person ran off track, it doesn’t matter how fast they run, they’ll never win. However, our scale would tilt slightly more on the execution side.

The first electric car? It wasn’t Tesla.
Tesla was way late to the party. Electric cars have been around since the 19th century

The first personal computer? It wasn’t Apple.
Personal computers were around long before the Apple II. Remember the Altair 8800?
But Apple was the winner.

The first web search engine? It wasn’t Google.
The first web search engine was Archie in 1990. Google was 15th to market!

And who created the first social media site? It certainly wasn’t Facebook.
A site called Six Degrees was created in 1997. Facebook was way late to the party.

These examples should tell you that it wasn’t the idea that was unique, but it was the team of people executing the idea that made the difference. The idea is important, but it’s secondary – the real strength of any startup is the team. Hire a great team, and give them the structure and resources to execute.

Have you ever heard of Odeo? It was a directory and search destination website for RSS-syndicated audio and video. The company failed, but the team had developed a microblogging tool for internal use that they thought might have some commercial viability. So, the founders started a new company called Obvious Corporation. That company eventually became better known as Twitter.

And that is why you need a great team to execute and pivot. At EZDynamic, we are skilled to take on your idea and to help you execute it to perfection. We are a boutique Management Consulting firm, based in New York, that caters to the Financial Services sector. We will help you refine your idea, navigate the critical regulatory environment, draw up a strategic & flawless execution plan with our D7 Planning Process.

Schedule a call to learn how we can support your organization

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