There’s a strange sort of social disease going around in technology circles today, and it all centers around this word “innovation.”
Everybody wants to “innovate.” The news talks about “who’s being the most innovative.” Marketing for companies insists that they are “innovating.”
Except actually, it’s not innovation that leads to success. It’s execution.
It doesn’t matter how good or how new my idea is. It matters how well I carry it out in the real world.
Now, our history books worship the inventors, not the executors. We are taught all about the people who invent new things, come up with new ideas, and plough new trails. But look around you in present time and in the recent past, and you’ll see that the most successful people are the ones who carried out the idea really well, not the people who came up with the idea.
Elvis didn’t invent rock and roll. Ford didn’t invent the automobile or the assembly line. Apple didn’t invent the GUI. Webster didn’t invent dictionaries. Maytag didn’t invent the washing machine. Google didn’t invent web searching. I could go on and on and on.
Granted, sometimes the innovator also is an excellent executor (Alexander Graham Bell being an example), but usually that’s not the case. Most inventors don’t turn out to be the most successful people in their field (or even successful at all).
So stop worrying about “coming up with something new.” You don’t have to do that. You just have to execute an already existing idea really, really well. You can add your own flair to it, maybe, or fix it up a little, but you don’t have to have something brand new.
There are so many examples that prove this that it’s hard not to see one if you move your eyes anywhere. Just look, you’ll see.
Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t innovate. You should! It’s fun, and it advances the whole human race a tiny step every time you do. But it’s not the path to long-term success for you or for any group you belong to. That’s all in execution.