Graffiti with MeaningImage by David Reece via Flickr

Over the past two weeks, the e-Me team has been giving me flack about the notion that ideas are cheap and that it’s all in the implementation: this is where it gets hard and expensive. During a recent conference, Tom sent the tweets, Nick was all over it, and I was having loads of fun with overpriced accountants trying to close my books for the year. Nice!

To be fair, there is some truth to this notion. It’s just that the truth, like most things, is in the context. Morning epiphanies in the shower always feel world-changing when you’re lathering and singing. But you get to the office, you chase it for a bit and get far enough to learn that you don’t know squat. Now you have to do work. Assuming your smart enough to socialize the idea, you learn that there are lots of great ideas about your ideas that better inform your ideas – but you still don’t know how to pull it off. In this context, yep, you betcha, ideas don’t take you far. What you need is all the stuff that comes after: a formed concepts, a basic design framework, some development tools, customer testing and feedback, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Damn! It really is hard! So yeah, splat! The idea dies.

But imagine that the tools, how-to knowledge, and related piece-parts were available; at minimal to no cost. And what if you had a sandbox to develop and test. Then what? Know what you need then? Yep, IDEAS. And not the flippant garden variety of idea (those are opinions, and like that hidden orifice, everybody has at least one). What you need is that vetted, socialized, scrutinized idea that is the basis form a good concept. And once you have a decent concept – well, you can start doing stuff. Because, it just so happens that more and more, the cloud offers lots of options.

On Nick’s post, he noted that “we can crawl the web, pick up on good ideas and tweak them to our needs. After all, ideas are cheap and it’s no biggie for us to steal them”. But you know, the iPod is not completely original. Portable, personal, music was invented by Sony. When we can borrow, tweak, edit and improve, we move the big ball forward. As easy as this is to say, it’s difficult for a guys, like me, who grew up building technology in labs and development “centers” in a race against time and the other guys who are trying to take you out. I learned (mumble-mumble) years ago that, as the renown philosopher, Austin Powers, would say “that’s just not cricket, baby”.

Today, it’s all about the great idea, great (and cheap) implementation (i.e, it ain’t great if it chokes your cash flow) and fast deployment. So if the process, tools, platforms and pieces are now cheap, what isn’t? Great ideas, from great people with huge passion and awesome skills to manage great (fast and cheap) deployment.

To all the great thinker-uppers out there: Rock On!!


As Nick said – Jason (another dude who is diving into the whole wedia thing) and I were at Iowa State University yesterday and today at a conference called ETC2008.

It was a cool little conference over at ISU in Ames, Iowa put on by the HCI/CompSci people.  (HCI = Human Computer Interface)  It was very refreshing to see these college students so fired up about some of the topics.  I spoke to a cool guy named Matt Heying who is working on a neat project about mashing SaaS, Web 2.0 and research – cool stuff.

The Innovation keynote was giving by a guy named Michael Schrage.  It was a great talk on innovation and here are my notes.

  • innovation is the transformation of novilty to value
  • good ideas are cheap – good implementatiosn aren’t
    Tom’s Comment: How true, and something Nick keeps telling me!  🙂
  • a model is a relevant approximation of reality (models are social constructions)  that we cost effectivly use.
  • what is simple?  simple is a social construct.
  • “home made simple” is a site by procter and gamble – almost 100% concept testing online @ literally 1/100 of the cost and 1/100 of the time
    Tom’s Comment: Michael had a good bit for information here – it just makes sense…too much almost.  But with the power of the internet and computers – we are silly not to do this.  Add in the power of Facebook and we have a test medium which can really reach people under 30 years old!
  • 80/20/20 vision
    80% of the necessary information
    20% of the time
    20% of the resources
  • google is not a seach engine – they are an instant search engine, it’s about how fast they can do it.
    Tom’s Comment: The point here is if google could double your search’s effectiveness – but it took 1 minute for the results…people would not accept it.  They are INSTANT SEARCH – not search.
  • resistance is by far the clearest window into understanding an organization’s internal economics of innovation – the reason they give for not innovating is the innovation culture.
  • how to provide:
    more accessable models for cost-effrective ROU (reduction of uncertainty) that boost value from use
  • we are over weighted in ideas and under weighted in implementations
  • not anti idea, but pro-idea and testing
  • refuse to talk about good ideas unless there is a testing routine
    Tom’s Comment: This was very clear after Michael’s talk.
  • do not try to implement and idea without testing.  refuse
  • layers of digital infrastructure allow us to itereate cheaply