That’s right. Overrated. It might be the most overrated topic in business today. Sure, you need to innovate. But a boatload of good ideas gain you nothing if your culture, capabilities, or competencies keep you anchored in the same spot. One good idea delivered trumps fifty great ideas sitting in your head.
Take this example. Maybe you’ve heard of Facebook? Been in the news lately. Facebook didn’t build the first social network. They weren’t the first to open their site to new customer types. They didn’t even build the only one targeted at college students. They simply delivered on the needs of their customers and then fed that network back on itself repeatedly. In other words, they executed. They delivered what they planned to do. What brilliant ideas sit on the whiteboards of Facebook product managers? Probably the same ones that sit on the whiteboards of product managers at MySpace, LinkedIn, Xing, ClubMom and so on. Ideas on whiteboards don’t matter. Only ideas that see the light of day have any chance of growing into something special.
A reporter once asked football coach John McKay how he felt about his team’s execution. McKay deadpanned, “I think it’s a damned fine idea.” A joke, sure. But the point’s the same. The best innovation is the one that gets to a customer.
Are you innovative? Or are your competitors eating your lunch? Do they really have better technology, tools, processes? Or is it that they’re just better at getting to market?