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Ideas: Half of Being Innovative is Knowing When to Quit Trying to Execute Bad Ones...

"So there I was at the Blackjack table with all my wash 'n' dries... did I tell you I had the idea for them first? I'm an idea man Chuck, I get ideas, sometimes I get so many ideas that I can't even fight them off!"

-Billy Blazejowski from Night Shift 

You're brilliant.  You've got so many ideas that you have to carry around a tape recorder to keep track of them all... Of course, the real rubber meets the road when you try and execute on one of those ideas.NightShift5

Once you start to execute, you've got to stick with it and make it work at all costs, right?  No one likes a quitter and quitters never win.  That's what I tell my boys.  Never quit!

Unless there are millions of dollars of cash flow burning on a monthly basis.  Kids, if you're burning cash, instead of just being stubborn about quitting, you probably actually need to justify continuing on the path you've set out on.  Nobody likes a losing idea when hard cash is being expended on a daily basis.  Believe that.

Example - the cash rich kids at Google decided recently to shut down the much heralded Google Wave, which was positioned as challenging Facebook/Twitter/ as a cool means to communicate.  More on shutting down Wave over at Business Week:

"Certainly the business world is rife with examples of other firms that keep investing more resources and staff in failing projects in the hopes of a miraculous recovery or simply to avoid the public embarrassment of failure. However, admitting failure and moving on is another key lesson in managing innovation. With Wave, Google simply did not get the user traction it needed to justify its existence. Innovation managers need to develop clear metrics about performance criteria and be ruthless about shutting down projects that do not meet the bar.

The ability to (quickly) shut down failing projects and reallocate intellectual and financial resources to other more promising endeavors is critical to innovation success as it releases individuals and budgets to take on the next big challenge. It also indicates to the internal organization that performance metrics are important and projects that do not meet the criteria will not be allowed to languish. Of course the lessons from the failure should be embraced and rapidly applied to other projects. In the case of Wave, Google has already started to bring some of the communication and collaboration features into their more successful products like GMail and Docs."

Never quit kids.  Unless when you get to market, it's painfully obvious that you missed and you're burning cash like the Titanic was tipping over glasses of Iced Tea.

In those circumstances, the most admirable innovative quality is the ruthless ability to cut funding and mothball your idea.  Kill it now... Eat your young...


Debbie Brown

I still have a few wave invitations- want one? honestly, I tried to use it and thought twitter was so much easier- and facebook was where my family and personal friends were- so it just was not going to make it- they made the right call- smart companies usually do! great post.



Eric Guess

The blurb about setting benchmarks/metrics for success is right on. Once you decide to execute an idea, you've got to formulate a metric with a time table included to measure your self against, well, your self. An idea without a plan is still an idea and execution with measurement is already doomed.

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