In Action, Change, Leaders

“Innovation without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

One of the most commonly used words in any conversation around business these days is innovation. Everybody wants to be innovative, whether it’s in terms of products or services, delivery methods, leadership, whatever. The more creative ideas the better.

The problem isn’t that a lot of businesses don’t have the great ideas, or aren’t able to innovate. The problem is the execution. If I had a dollar for every great new idea that collapsed because of a lack of execution I’d be writing this from my own private island in the Caribbean. We come up with lots of great new things to try or do; we just have a hard time getting them done.

Sometimes the devil is in the details. We start actually trying to execute and realize it’s not going to be easy. Who knew change could be so hard? Rather than figure out how we’re going to execute, we just give up.

Sometimes we really don’t believe it can be done. We might have something that’s a great idea, but deep down we just don’t think we have the ability/resources/people/whatever to follow through. We think there are too many things outside of our control, so we quit.

But often we just don’t have anything that resembles accountability. We put together a plan, and we feel confident we can implement it – then we get busy doing other things and it gets pushed aside. We just don’t follow through. So…

Get help. Almost nobody on earth is very good at self-accountability. So find a peer, an advisor, a friend, a relative, whomever to help you. Somebody who’s willing to hold your feet to the fire when you need it.

Make it public. If nobody knows you’ve committed to doing something it’s a lot easier to quit. You can convince yourself that you have a great excuse. If you’ve told others in your organization or peer group that you’re going to do something it becomes a lot harder. Nobody wants to look like a quitter.

Don’t overdo it. I used to think the hard part about coaching would be getting people to try and do things. It’s not. The hard part is to keep them from trying to do to many things. Be realistic. Have a big vision, but bite it off in chewable amounts. Don’t try to have 10 initiatives at once. If one is all you can do right now, great. That’s one step closer than you were before.

Having big ideas is great, and it’s necessary. But that alone isn’t enough. You have to execute. What are you going to do today to make sure your innovation isn’t a hallucination?

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Showing 2 comments
  • Wayne Lockhart

    Spot on Matt. As Merle Haggard sings “one step at a time ….” – may also stop you from giving up on a good idea.

    • Matt Heemstra
      Matt Heemstra

      The last part of your comment rings true – how many good ideas do we give up on because we got overwhelmed! Probably more than we care to think. Thanks for your input!

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