Innovation without Execution is Futile

InnovationMeetExecutionA few weeks back I blogged on Quality and Process Drive Execution and Innovation. When I went back to read it again, I realized I did not express the relationship between Execution and Innovation quite right.

At the end of last year during the eBay leaders week, one session struck me in particular. Devin Wenig (President of eBay Marketplaces – the web site) talked about execution and innovation and made some points that really resonated with me at the time.  Reading back on what I wrote I was reminded of how he expressed the relationship between innovation and execution.

Devin said Innovation without execution can be one of the most frustrating and demoralizing things you can ever do.

Brent Peters (CTO eBay Enterprise) had another quote – Vision without execution is hallucination – Thomas Edison.

Why?  What is the point of coming up with a great new idea, something truly innovative, without being able to turn it into reality?

Most often the innovation phase of the development of a new product is the smaller effort and time frame (at least in the projects I have been in). Execution, getting the product built and tested and getting it out to market is the harder thing to do well. It frequently takes more effort and can take more skill.

So the ideal is to have both innovation and execution working hand in hand. Have ways in your company to come up with great ideas, but then make sure you tie that in with execution to see that idea get fleshed out and turned into a real product that impacts the world.

If you can execute, but have no innovation, the world will pass you by. If you can innovate but not execute, it is no better! The ideas go nowhere and the world moves on again. The trick is to harness both innovation and execution together. That is when something special happens.

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