Sunday, June 28, 2009


Vision vs. Execution? Maybe start with Vision vs. Idea

A recent Sarah Lacy post on TechCrunch treated the question "Is Execution More Important than Vision?" One response was from Dave Morin, asking for a conversation on the subject, which is where I happened on it.

There were some quick posts to the conversation, where the trend seemed to be in favor of Execution. One of those posting in response to Morin, Ben Bloch, had even posted a few days ahead of the Lacy post. His take captured the gist of the other comments: "the idea itself is essentially worthless without quality execution and perseverance."

I took part in the "conversation" by trying to jam into tweet space the relationship among idea, vision, and execution. I was going to leave it at that. But like that song you can't get out of your head, I found myself continuing to stew on it.

I found someone else who looks for the connectedness in things in Bob Warfield who responded to the Lacy posting in "Vision is Strategy. Execution is Tactics" with
One of the things that resonates with me from Warfield's piece--and connects to my first response that Vision is bigger than just an idea--is his view of Vision is Strategy. That is, to frame this up to begin with , it's not Ideas vs. Execution, but really, Vision vs. Ideas.

I'm as guilty as anyone of having ideas and seeing something later that looks connected. At one company a dozen years back, I tried to get some momentum behind making satellite terrain and imagery mapping and visualization available to the public. Another time, I ran into "Why would anyone want to do that on a phone?" And there was getting rebuffed about moving to information delivery on Mosaic with "We won't use shareware."

In each case, we had all the technical ability, but the vision-- the ability flesh out how to make it so required more time, ability, and/or commitment than I/we had. I'd be kidding myself if I thought otherwise. And yes, I'd put in there the articulation of the business case. In this context, by the time you get to Execution, or as Warfield says, Tactics, it is Vision shaping things for you:
I liked this. As an Executor, I've always done best with having a vision to guide me on what to do, particularly when we've come up against the need to make adjustments. It's very much like pulling out a map to check bearings. It also helped to be part of filling out the vision. If Vision can be said to be the "where," then Execution might be the "what," complemented by Culture as the "how," which I'd touched on in an earlier post.

How's that for carrying on the conversation?


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