Adaptable Execution

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in Blog | No Comments

Which is greater, the idea or its execution? With the release of the movie “Social network”, there was a lot of buzz regarding the scandal around the origins of Facebook. From the movie, the idea for Facebook was originally conceived by another group of Harvard students and Mark Zuckerberg, who we currently know as the founder of Facebook, was just brought into the project as a developer and he ended up stealing all the glory in the end. So, based on what we have learned, which was greater here – the idea to create facebook or Zuckerberg’s execution of the idea?

Gurbaksh “G” Chahal, serial entrepreneur, thinks that the greatness of everything, ideas or plans, lies in their execution, the raw idea, not so much. “G” wrote an open post in Facebook, entitled “Dear America, Please Wake Up”, where he states that an idea only constitutes 1% of the success of an innovation and the rest of 99% of it achieved by pure execution. He adds that it is hard work, the dare to dream and a vision that converts the idea into a success not the conception of the idea itself. Read the whole post here. It looks like Zuckerberg could have been more daring than the other bunch, don’t you think? If you don’t believe me, read about him somewhere.

Lots of people have great ideas but an idea without a proper execution is quite simply just an idea.I recently read a case study about a company that refused to acknowledge the changes in its intended customer base and adapt to it but instead chose a path that caused its  downfall. Cristal wine brand was gaining quite a lot of traction in the hip-hop community. The brand was receiving large sales and coverage from rappers like Jay-Z and several others which further increased the popularity of the brand. However, the CEO of the company, when asked in an interview with The Economist if their association with the unintended audience was good for the brand, replied with the following phrase: “…that’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying [our brand]”, which led the hip-hop artists,  Jay-Z, Kanye West and 50 Cent to effectively lead to boycotting the brand. Read about this here. In a public speaking offered in the University of Waterloo, one of the highly regarded qualities  of an effective speech is the extemporaneous quality. This term essentially refers to your ability to improvise on the fly. One of the ways to do this is the ability to listen and effectively recall previous speeches heard in class or wherever and make something of it, thus relating it back to your own speeches.

By the way, I recently got a chance to play the game “Apples to Apples” (and yes, I am going to tell you about it). For those of you who are not familiar with the game, Apples to Apples consist of two decks of cards – Things (red cards) and Descriptions (green cards). Each turn, the designated current judge selects a Description card and players try to pick, from the green cards in their hands, the Things that best match that Description. The judge then chooses the Thing that appeals most and awards the card to the player who played it. The goal of the game is to convince the judge that your red card is the best either through creativity, humour, etc…  I was fairly successful in this game. The approach I used was to first come up with an initial idea just like the others would to match the red card. My next move was to enforce that idea with the red card ideas from the other players, by either using their own words to put them down or following their chain of thought. The entire aim was to use any means possible to portray why my ideawas better and I did this by humourously fishing for loop holes in their remarks that expose a possible relation to my card. . What I was doing here is something I like to call adaptable execution.

We might come up with initial ideas and visions but somewhere along the way we might have lost sight of the vision or worse refuse to accept changes in the reality and are not constantly reworking our plans to achieve success.  To come up with an initial idea is easy, especially if you give it enough thought and time, but it is significantly harder to find a way to execute it correctly. In a time where the state of businesses and the economy is undergoing constant metamorphosis, I think we should spend more time accounting for the future rather than wasting a whole lot of time implementing business plans. We need to think and plan carefully for things that we can control and then begin execution.  When changes occur during execution, all we have to do is modify our plans to adapt and continue executing.

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