Paradox Pair #34: Creativity & Implementation
Creativity, the generation of ideas, is not synonymous with innovation, the implementation of an idea. The secret to innovation is in the implementation of an idea, in its execution.
It is easy to think of ideas — as anyone who has furiously scribbled ideas down on sticky notes in a group brainstorming sessions can attest. At the end of those sessions there are often far more ideas than an organization could possibly support. Creativity, the generation of ideas, is not synonymous with innovation, the implementation of an idea. The secret to innovation is in the execution of an idea. Innovation only happens when a good idea is well executed. Implementation is often unglamorous, hard work.
It's not enough to think of a great idea only to have it sit on the shelf. When others implement an idea and find success, we often hear folks try to take full credit by exclaiming, "I thought of that". Indeed you may have, and then you went no further, little credit can be given.
“I could make that, but I didn’t. Why didn’t I f-ing make that?” -Brian Eno
We, of course, want both creativity and innovation. Therefore it's imperative that our teams have people who are great at generating ideas and those that are great at implementing ideas. These skill sets aren't always mutually exclusive, yet they often are. When we are assembling a team we know to weigh our ability to implement, operate, and maintain as well as generate new ideas.
It's worth noting the great observation made by Ed Catmull in Creativity, Inc.:
"...if you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or come up with something better." -Ed Catmull, co-founder Pixar
See the whole series by using the Paradox Pairs Index