Idea vs. Execution: Which Is More Important?

Both the idea guy and the execution guy are critical for organizational success but how do we go about balancing the two?

3 min read

Mitchell D. Pousson II / November 19, 2020

Some people are really good at coming up with ideas.

Others are better at executing them.

But few are good at doing both.

In order for teams to be successful, they need to empower both the idea guys and the execution guys so that they can coexist in a healthy and productive manner.

The Idea Guy is great at:

  • Spotting opportunities
  • Finding connections between different subjects
  • Articulating their thoughts
  • Thinking "outside of the box"
  • Maintaining an ongoing list of ideas

The Execution Guy is great at:

  • Getting the right things done
  • Channeling thoughts into actions
  • Making the complicated simple
  • Breaking the big picture down into feasible steps
  • Designing a course of action

Companies can choose to optimize one or the other but at some point the two have to collaborate in order to turn ideas into reality.

Execution can be so good that they run out of stuff to work on or ideation can be so expansive that they pump out ideas but never pursue any of them.

Striking the balance between the two is the key to unlocking the most effective process.

You need research and development but can’t survive long if none of the R&D work is ever sent to manufacturing so prototypes and designs can be made into tangible, shippable products.

It's critical for companies to simultaneously explore new markets while also optimizing the ones they currently dominate. But spending too much time on either is cost prohibitive and strategically flawed.

Startups explore and capture markets well but as they grow they often lose their ability to do so.

Big companies capitalize on existing markets efficiently but often fail in finding new pursuits.

Ideas without execution are equally as worthless as executing on the wrong idea.

Most companies focus on empowering the execution guy because the results are tangible and obvious.

Only a select few find ways to empower the idea guy.

But we've yet to find a solution that serves both by helping them perfectly coexist and collaborate in a sustainable manner.

We see a challenge worth pursuing in designing the yin and yang of product development so that both the execution guy and the idea guy can exist in perfect harmony.


Because it's equally as easy for teams to be derailed by divergence as it is for them to be constrained by convergence.

And by definition, both halt forward progress.

So whichever one you choose to indulge subsequently edges you along the well-beaten and all too familiar path away from the progress you seek.

If you want to get somewhere new, you have to balance exploratory wandering with intentional pursuit in order to reach promising destinations.

If you’re able to do both, the destinations you reach may surprise you as you end up in places reserved for only the bravest of trailblazers—shipping innovative, sustainable solutions to the problems you face and in the process, mapping the uncharted territory for everyone that follows.

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