Mark R.D. Jones

(Initial) Ideas are nothing: people and implementation everything.

“Don’t worry about other people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
Howard Aiken

Here are links to articles and books detailing the view that you and the people you have around you, along with your continuing intent, focus and perseverance are fundamentally important in accomplishing and improving a project, and that your (initial) idea for a project is merely the seed to further evolutionary and transformative activity. (An occasionally updated post.)

Jon Gertner “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.”cr

Reviews of two 2010 books on the environment surrounding idea development, implementation and innovation:

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson (Riverhead)

The Innovator’s Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation by Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press)

Where Do Good Ideas Come From? by Richard Katzev, Marks in the Margin (November 4, 2010)

People and Places That Innovate by Nancy F Koehn, New York Times (September 5, 2010)

Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything.

The Value of Ideas Scott Adams  (June 4, 2010)
“You have to let an idea evolve, change and even fail…”

Milton Glaser:
Fear of failure (video) 7:30

“The model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success…

The real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgement that you are not a genius. That you are not as good as you thought you were. And, doing a project that is truly complex, and difficult, tests your real ability…
The thing we most fear in regard to failure is our own self-acknowledgement that we really don’t exactly know what we’re doing. There is only one solution. You must embrace failure. You must admit what is. You must find out what you’re capable of doing, and what you’re not capable of doing. That is the only way to deal with the issue of success and failure, because, otherwise, you simply would never subject yourself to the possibility that you are not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as others think you are…

My advice about failure is that there is only one way out: Embrace the failure.”

Your idea sucks, now go do it anyway
Jason Cohen A Smart Bear (September 19, 2009)

Get Good at Idea Generation   James Hague   Dangum   (March 27, 2014)
“The point…isn’t just to solve your current problem, but to change your thinking over time. To get your mind working in a unique way, not just restating what you’ve seen around the web. Every so often you’ll have a small breakthrough of an idea that will become a frame for future solutions. Later you’ll have another small breakthrough that builds on it. Eventually you’ll be out in a world of thought of your own making, where you’re seriously considering ideas that aren’t even in someone else’s realm of possibility.”

Casey Neistat: Ideas are Easy – Execution is Everything
Presented at the Core77 Conference, June 2014 (30 minute video presentation).
Casey describes his personal and career background, emphasizing the importance of learning by doing. Quotations: “I never learned the right way to do things.” “The Thing I believe in more than anything else is execution.”

Cultivate Teams, Not Ideas
Jeff Atwood – Coding Horror (January 25, 2010)

Startups in stealth mode need one piece of advice: Just Stop.
Jason Freedman – humbledMBA (February 15, 2011)

Got a Great Idea? Tell Everyone!
David H. Freedman – New York Times (February 21, 2011)

Why smart people defend bad ideas
Scott Berkun (April 2005)

Top ten geek business myths
Ron Garret (fka Erann Gat) (October 1, 2006)

8 things I wish I knew before starting a business
Don Rainey – VentureBeat (August 19, 2010)

This is all your app is: a collection of tiny details.
Will Shipley, quoted in Daring Fireball (August 15, 2007)

How to bring ideas to life PDF (January 2011)
Idea Mensch

The Shortcut We Took to Build Yipit in Three Days
Vinicius Vacanti, co-founder of (December 20, 2010)

They will steal your idea: They cannot steal what really matters
Jason Baptiste (July 20, 2010)
“They cannot steal your…long term vision; domain expertise; market failure driven pivots; talent; analytical insights; passion for great service; passion to make this idea a reality.”

Characterizing people as non-linear, first-order components in software development
Alistair A.R. Cockburn
Humans and Technology – HaT Technical Report 1999.03, (Oct 21, 1999).
Presented at the 4th International Multi-Conference on Systems, Cybernetics and Informatics, Orlando, Florida, (June, 2000)

Five Reasons to Drop Non Disclosure Agreements
Eoghan McCabe (April 22, 2008)
“Whatever your idea, however smart it is, at least ten people have already had it. What makes you special is that you’re doing something about it now.”

Success, and Farming vs. Mining
Will Shipley (April 2, 2011)

A Student’s Guide to Startups
Paul Graham (October 2006)
Graham essentially says among the biggest challenges in a startup is to find co-founders, and that the school environment is an excellent one to discover and assess your potential cofounder.

Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas
Paul Graham (April 2005)
“The hard part about figuring out what customers want is figuring out that you need to figure it out.”

How to Start a Startup
Paul Graham (March 2005)
All of the below quotations are from this essay.

The Idea

“In particular, you don’t need a brilliant idea to start a startup around. The way a startup makes money is to offer people better technology than they have now. But what people have now is often so bad that it doesn’t take brilliance to do better.”

“An idea for a startup, however, is only a beginning. A lot of would-be startup founders think the key to the whole process is the initial idea, and from that point all you have to do is execute. Venture capitalists know better. If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you’ll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. That shows how much a mere idea is worth. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA.”


“What matters is not ideas, but the people who have them. Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can’t save bad people. ”

“For programmers we had three additional tests. Was the person genuinely smart? If so, could they actually get things done? And finally, since a few good hackers have unbearable personalities, could we stand to have them around?”

What Customers Want

“It’s not just startups that have to worry about this. I think most businesses that fail do it because they don’t give customers what they want. Look at restaurants. A large percentage fail, about a quarter in the first year. But can you think of one restaurant that had really good food and went out of business?”

“It’s the same with technology. You hear all kinds of reasons why startups fail. But can you think of one that had a massively popular product and still failed?”

Raising Money

“Talk to as many VCs as you can, even if you don’t want their money, because a) they may be on the board of someone who will buy you, and b) if you seem impressive, they’ll be discouraged from investing in your competitors. The most efficient way to reach VCs, especially if you only want them to know about you and don’t want their money, is at the conferences that are occasionally organized for startups to present to them.”


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