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Ideas suck (hackfwd.tumblr.com)
73 points by k7d on April 17, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

The concept that ideas aren't important is getting really old. Sure, once you have your idea, the execution and vision are what's going to make you successful. But is one idea better than another? Yes. Do you want great vision and execution to go along with a brain-dead stupid idea? No.

Ideas don't suck; ideas are important; ideas are the genesis for everything else talked about in this article. Sure, it's just part of the foundation of what will turn into a business, but it's often the cornerstone of that foundation.

I'm tired of this 'ideas suck' meme on hacker news as well. For that you get the up-vote. But, You're getting it wrong in that one idea is better than another. That's not really the point.

The point is that your STARTING idea sucks, while out of that could come good ideas. The point -> Groupon, restaurant ordering from your cell phone -> to reddit, paying with your cell phone -> paypal, craig's e-mail list -> craig's list. You get the idea.

I think we can assume most people on HN aren't brain dead, and for those that they probably wouldn't listen to you or I anyway. So, most people's ideas on HN probably look like a slightly manipulated bell curve with less really bad ideas and slightly more really good ideas from the beginning. For most people their ideas fall in the middle.

The reason why ideas are important is because they give you a foot hold to pivot from to something better. Most of the time their related (paypal, groupon) other times their not(reddit) but by executing ideas you can see where the real opportunity is. That's what people in the middle need. They need to be able to pivot their ideas quickly.

"Vision without execution" is getting old too.

What exactly are we calling execution? Is it the fleshing out of the idea into focused executable parts? Because we could also call that part of the idea or the vision.

When I think of execution I think of deliverables. Doing what you intended to do or leaving no stone unturned. That involves thinking things out and doing them. The thinking things out part could easily be part of the idea. You can blame the success of some startups on "the execution", but you can't prove it. The success could also have come from the idea that had the most clarity.

It sucks that we're not always able to picture which ideas will be successful, but that doesn't mean ideas suck.

Execution on the technical side means implementation, while on the business side it means "finding money." It's as simple as that. Drawings/mocks, blog posts, bantering at bizsocial events, etc. don't qualify.

Think of it in terms of criminals. Putting someone on Death Row is not the same as execution.

I know you said it's pretty simple, but where does finding users come up in your equation?

I think that's also on the business side.

"Finding users" is pointless if none of them are going to give you money. Don't put the cart before the horse.

Here, here. Exceedingly worse than a bad idea is one that is wrapped in the cloak of "vision" in order to make it sound more profound than it really is. Yes, I'm sure the founders at your coupon startup see themselves as redefining human civilization, but they're really just drinking too much of their own kool-aide.

The problem with visions is that being a visionary is even harder than keeping to a diet.

If it's a good vision everyone will think you're crazy, if it's an awesome vision you probably are crazy, if it's an incredible vision you probably won't live long enough to enjoy its coming to fruition.

But always keep in mind that even a vision isn't everything, because a vision without execution is merely hallucination.

Personally I try to have a good mix of both. A vision and then a bunch of ideas around the vision to keep me excited, energetic and up all night. It might not be the most efficient of ways, but it sure helps deal with an internet-reduced attention span.

Perfect post. Absolutely spot on.

This meme "execution is everything; ideas are useless" is rampant here. I also believe it's a bad frame of mind. There is little distinction between an idea and a vision. A vision is just a fully fleshed-out idea; a collection of ideas: some inspirational, but many technical, economic or sociological.

I understand why the meme gained traction: too many people put everything into just one inspirational idea and never put enough effort into the execution of this idea -- the community wants to distinguish themselves as superior to these people so we attempt to tell them off and posture about execution in order to prove to everybody else here that we 'get things done'. But is talking about it really the way of proving that? Are we taking this concept too far merely because we want acceptance in the community?

All you need is to have a good idea, some supporting ideas about how to turn it into a business and to put a lot of effort into its execution. The rest of the article about a vision went into what was needed but not having ideas is not the way of going about this. You want to have some disruptive ideas as part of your execution.

tl;dr : 'hey, look at me, I'm a doer!'

how many more blogs do we need about this exact notion? here's the thing about ideas: they don't need to be turned into business models to be incredibly valuable (cf. the world wide web). and here's the thing about business models: it doesn't necessarily take another business to make them obsolete. so I see why startup people want to downplay the value of ideas constantly, but it gets tiring

tl;dr : 'Ideas suck unless they evolve into a vision.'

I thought it was pretty good article, myself. I especially liked this bit: "In terms of traits, a vision is more similar to love than lust. It takes time to achieve a vision, it’s something you nurture, something that you grow into more and more each day and the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. A vision is something that you spend every waking minute thinking about. Something that is so ridiculously complex that it becomes beautifully elegant. Simplified. Real. A vision will give you the foundation for genuine confidence, hope and expectation."

The vision bit was good it's just the 'ideas suck' spiel/meme I object to.

Is it just me or is it in tech today, that people are apt to make sweeping generalisations at the foot of an inch of experience?

I don't think this behavior is new to humanity. My grandparents do this.

i bet some people have a tendency to do this. i know my mind does. i try to make sweeping generalizations whenever possible. i feel like eventually some gems will fall out of a robust minimal ruleset i created.

If you stop having ideas, you're done for. It's not ideas that suck, it's acting on the wrong ones. In order to have good ideas, you have to let your mind wander, and that means in addition to the good ones, there will also be plenty that are unrealistic or silly, but they all supply wood to the fire. It is possible to work hard, stay focused, and have ideas churning at the same time.

I don't buy the idea that ideas suck.

Less when the idea is of easy execution and there are ideas where execution matters less! for example if you have an idea that can be implemented in short time and you can be in the market in less than three months then the idea matters a lot.

I'll give you some rants of how I handle my ideas. Like everyone in HN I have a lot of ideas, so I put them in a XY graph, in the X the time needed to implement and have some market feedback on the idea (the time can be logarithmic, it doesn't need to be accurate). Then the Y is the value of the idea. If you want to add other dimensions like complexity or resources do it, this can be added with colors or with a bigger circle instead of a point I try graph as many ideas as possible.

Then, I trace a line in the 3 months. It's very possible that there are no ideas there or very few, so I try to "fix" the ideas or invent new ones to fit in the 3 months time.

This is like a game of idea generation.

Re: Ideas suck! http://hackerne.ws/item?id=2453957

Ideas don't suck. You do if you think you should stay with only one idea. If you have only one idea then go for it! That's great! But don't limit yourself.

In my case I found a way that works for me very well after a lot of frustration.

Painters don't get famous if they have only one painting; musicians don't have a career if they write only one song, no matter how popular it is.

The "just one idea" is bs. Stay away from it. If you have many start with one and if you get tired or bored continue with a new one. Then come back to the first one.

The most creative people in the planet don't do one idea at a time.

Think about it!

How does one get these ideas in the first place? Is it something that can be trained?

Yes, there are various processes. If you ask, it's usually because you are not naturally overwhelmbed by your brain firing ideas every second (some people are overloaded with ideas, 99% not worth doing of course). It usually involves note-taking, watching how the world works and cross-referencing situations and asking "what if X worked like Y".

Bad ideas "suck". Good ideas are golden.

With bad ideas, execution has to do "everything" and is "difficult" and likely a fool's errand.

Good ideas are difficult and rare but make successful execution routine, and the US is awash in the ability to do routine execution well.

Key is how to find good ideas and evaluate them. Can that be done? Yes, the US DoD has been doing that with astounding accuracy for 70 years. The US NIH and NSF also do well. There's even 'education' in how to do that: It's call a Ph.D. from a good US research university.

Here endith Lecture 1 in 'Ideas 101 for Entrepreneurs'.

In this elementary course, the author of the post of this thread didn't do well. Neither did KPCB VC Doerr who at


claimed that "Ideas are easy" and "plentiful" and "Execution is everything.". Neither did Union Square VC Wilson who at


said "Ideas are pretty much worthless.".

For the most diplomatic view, mostly by an 'idea' they mean some nearly instant guess at a one sentence description of what would make a good description of a product or service to a customer, and the hope is that the business would be good.

Our society has a lot on working with ideas from 'intellectual property', 'trade secrets', patents, pharmaceutical research, peer-reviewed original research, military classification, and more.

Really what we have here is that the author, Doerr, Wilson, etc. either are so astoundingly ignorant that their understanding of ideas is somewhere below the fourth grade level for a poor student or that they have their own reasons for joining in the drum beat that ideas "suck". Either way they are embarrassing themselves in public. No good entrepreneur should want anything to do with them.

No. Great ideas are truly great. However: morons without imagination, who blabber on repeating stuff they heard somewhere - yes, they suck.

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