Startups need people able and willing of doing the actual work. They need programmers, designers, and eventually folks to do marketing, support, and more. What they don’t need, though, is someone who’s just going to be The Idea Guy.
You know the type. It’s the “this thing is going to be Facebook meets Flickr, but for dogs! If we can just get 1% of the online dog market, we’ll be rich!” spiel. All idea, usually no money, and hardly any functional skills that’ll help build or launch the damn thing.
On the face and the facts of it, it’d be easy to turn down The Idea Guy. He wants you to work for very little or free in return for a smaller-than-his slice of the pie in the end. That end very rarely happens. But the energy and the big dreams can be dangerously alluring. I know, I fell for it more than once.
The truth is that most everyone has plenty of ideas that could work out to be great businesses. The kicker is most often the right execution, that they’d be responsible for anyway, at the right time, which is almost impossible to predict. The value of The Perfect Idea is very small indeed.
That doesn’t mean it’s useless to have big ideas and plenty of enthusiasm. If you’re that guy, you’ve got a great start. Now pick up a functional skill and help build it your damn self.
Thijs van der Vossenon 02 Mar 10
You fell for it more than once? Examples! ;)
Mislavon 02 Mar 10
In the Balkans, the Idea Guy is usually a self-proclaimed professional who tells the team how and why to do stuff, but skipped the skill-acquiring phase himself. Basically, it’s a person who values himself too much to allow himself to work. I’m sure it’s pretty similar to the Idea Guys elsewhere. I avoid such people.
Anonymouson 02 Mar 10
Yeah, our “CEO” is an arrogant, annoying “Idea Guy.” It’s the rest of our jobs to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. Even our 19 year old intern is more functional than him…
Fredon 02 Mar 10
Facebook meets Flickr, but for dogs!
I’m stealing this!
Austin Rails Developeron 02 Mar 10
I’m with Thijs … can you give us some examples. Its validating to know I’m not the only one who’s fallen for such :D
Matton 02 Mar 10
Great way to filter out ‘idea’ guys is to look at what ideas they have followed-through on in the past.
Brent Rowlandon 02 Mar 10
My first boss out of college was intensely proud of being an “Idea Guy.” It’s a synonym for bullshitter. The best ones will actually shut up long enough for you to get something done. Or so I’ve heard…
John Sjölanderon 02 Mar 10
@ Anonymous: Instead of complaining on some blog suck it up and quit your job for god’s sake.
Alexandre Britoon 02 Mar 10
I agree with you 200%.
Honestly i think people like that are everywhere, such great ideas that never have time to get it done. So well… their creativity is worth 0 for me.
Like seth godin said in quieting the lizard brain (talk in 99% conference), we shouldn’t be ‘afraid’ of “creative people”, because as he said everyone is creative, we should be ‘afraid’ of people that get things done… that’s the people we should work with, be our friends, send emails to!
In my opinion there’s nothing done without hard work.. even the brightest idea needs you to implement it, design it before it reaches the final glory of 1000 tweets.. no matter what everyone should start from the beginning and understand that!
Like you say, the ‘idea man’ is the one that thinks he can get just the last 5% of the project and well.. be successful without doing anything!
Colinon 02 Mar 10
True. That’s why Apple should’ve fired Jobs long time ago.
Curtis Milleron 02 Mar 10
I agree, everyone involved in a startup should have a role. I’ve found the idea guy/gal tends to be more of a distraction to the rest of the team, and to themselves, than anything else.
Georgeon 02 Mar 10
Everyone hates the Idea Guy until it turns out he’s the guy with the money. :(
Anonymous Cowardon 02 Mar 10
Colin: Steve Jobs is intimately involved with just about every decision decision and many technical decisions as well. He understands the insides of the products.
Georgeon 02 Mar 10
@ John Sjolander: I guess I missed the point where he said it was so bad he needed to quit his job?
Jakeon 02 Mar 10
Here! Here! Have had my share of experiences. What idea guys don’t understand is that they can actually do a lot if they just keep going past the idea part. Most just stop at the idea and say ‘there, i’ve done my job’ – WRONG!
Joao Da Silvaon 02 Mar 10
“The idea guy” is a dreamer, the main point of the start up is as david said. If you have enthusiasm and treat your project as your baby, your chances will be hire then the BS idea of @ Anonymou mentioned.
Another thing is that 1% of the online dog market its a level that most of the mere mortals will never get and as david said in a conference about startups build a solid business model instead of building a cool app sell it and move on to the next one, that in consideration the example of the local “butcher”, he worked all is life in his on business, provided a good support for family and so on.
Anyway i enjoyed this post. All the best
Curtis Milleron 02 Mar 10
@George, I had a monied idea guy lure me in with the possibility of seed funding an idea a partner and I’d been developing.
After several meetings he said “I’m not going to fund your idea, but I have a few ideas of my own that you could develop for me.” Then he proceeded to pitch us his ideas and offered us the opportunity to do all the development for a small percentage of the company…
In the end, I realized I just wasn’t passionate enough about his ideas to be a part of the company, so I walked away.
DL Reddenon 02 Mar 10
My first business partner wanted to be the idea guy. We actually had the conversation when I mentioned that it seemed like I was actually doing all of the work. That partnership failed shortly after that conversation.
I currently have a friend who’s a self proclaimed idea guy. Point being that they’re everywhere. Some are near useless, others are quite useful but tend to fail when it comes to execution. Beware though as the idea guy can be quite charismatic.
KevBurnsJron 02 Mar 10
Isn’t there a case for the idea guy as a domain expert? Like if your product is financial services, you want someone on the team who knows what a DTI ratio is and has connections to the target audience for your product.
What’s the skill set for the guy who’s focused on making sure your product doesn’t wind up a twitter clone with a trillion bells and whistles?
Lonny Eachuson 02 Mar 10
I disagree. I too have also fallen (or almost fallen) several times for The Idea Guy’s ideas, just as you describe. Fortunately I was able to see through the issues before I got too deeply ensnared. For example someone I know had a good idea that seemed worth pursuing… until I researched it and learned that several new startups with better funding were already doing it and had products on the market (albeit only very recently).
But there are enough exceptions to this “rule” that I don’t think it should be glorified as a rule.
The thing is that your Idea Guy has to know enough about the subject to have a good idea of whether it will really work… not just pie-in-the-sky ideas out of nowhere. But that doesn’t mean that the Idea Guy has to implement it him- or herself. Henry Ford was an idea guy… but you didn’t see him out there assembling car parts with the other guys.
Do you think Bill Lear knew much of anything about how to build a jet plane? Or that Bill Gates knew much of anything about building an operating system? (Even though he was a programmer, he didn’t then, and knew it… that’s why he bought one from Gary Kildall.)
And so on. While the exceptions might be less frequent than those who follow this “rule”, they are hardly scarce, and a good number of them have had quite spectacular success.
Scott Schwartzon 02 Mar 10
I second Lonny’s and Kev Burns’ comments.
When used as a synonym for BS-Artist, yes there’s little-to-no-utility there. And yes, in a small endeavor you need braves not chiefs.
But there is something to be said for someone who is keeping an eye on the big picture and not getting lost in the details. The ideal Idea Guy may not be your ace coder or designer, but understands the tradeoffs in design decisions and is concerned about where a product fits in the marketplace, positioning, pricing, and the other myriad components that are not strictly building the damned thing.
I agree that execution counts for many many multiples more than than the idea, but execution isn’t just code and unit tests.
Steveon 02 Mar 10
“and hardly any functional skills”
Really interesting line there. I’ve found that often those with functional skill lack the motivation to act on ideas they may have.
A few “idea guys” with complimenting skill sets can be a killer combo.
Chrison 02 Mar 10
The Idea Guy is precisely why I stopped offering my services in most online sites (CL, etc.) and have stuck to doing one-off, boutique-style pricing for clients that have an actual budget.
I’d love to run across an Idea Guy with a half-baked idea and a well-done application/site. That is something/someone that I can work with and make profitable.
(dethroning Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, GMail, and Google in one fell swoop is not the way to do it, though)
5v3non 02 Mar 10
It’s definitely right that there’s some kind of “clever guy” with that brilliant business plan who lacks the technical/functional skills to get things done on his own – who sucks big time.
On the other hand, there’s that technical versatile type of nerd who has brilliant ways of solving somebodys problem. But is too nerdy to even know that this highly complicated formula he plays around with could be of any use than satisfy his joy & curiousity. Which sucks big time, too.
These two stereotypes have to be combined. If it’s in a single person: awesome! But in my opinion, there’s no problem in achieving that combination with two different persons.
The tricky part is – as it always seems to be – finding a stable interface.
Both parties have to be quite patient with each other to build a kind of cut set – or already have such a set in common – to really get along with each other.
BTW, it’s quite amusing to read that ad discussing such a context:
“Got a web design project in mind? Find a web designer on Sortfolio. Browse by visual style, portfolio, budget, and geographic location.”
KevBurnsJron 02 Mar 10
@Steve : “I’ve found that often those with functional skill lack the motivation to act on ideas they may have.”
A common misperception. In truth, the act of doing involves the actualization of a thousand tiny ideas.
Mankhoolon 02 Mar 10
I’m an idea guy and the reason I’m an idea guy is because most hackers are too close to the code to be truly innovative. It is because I don’t know what I don’t know that I can imagine things that haven’t been done before.
Adamon 02 Mar 10
If only this kind of thinking was pushed through the business management schools (I can only speak for the one I attended) I think the calibre of graduate would be far more useful. This concept that the idea is more important than the implementation is unfortunately all too common.
Adamon 02 Mar 10
@Mankhool how often do you hear ‘no’ because it can’t be done? I don’t see your ignorance as a strength at all, rather a hindrance to a speedy implementation. And how many ideas have you missed out on because you don’t understand what’s possible?
Chip Hannaon 02 Mar 10
Amen, brotha. Amen!
Rickon 02 Mar 10
Isn’t Jason Fried the epitome of an idea guy? I recall him saying he is not a programmer or designer.
DHHon 02 Mar 10
Rick, Jason is a designer. His design hand is in every single product we have.
Bradon 02 Mar 10
I don’t mind an idea guy so long as they back up their ideas with clear choices. Helps to whittle down the unending development possibilities.
Now, if the idea guy is constantly waffling over to the next, next idea, then that’s just chaos. Now we’re talking about the chaos guy.
Gabe da Silveiraon 02 Mar 10
@Colin There is a difference between the visionary and the idea guy. Jobs has a strong vision, it almost doesn’t matter if he comes up with the ideas. Does anyone even know if Jobs initiated the iMac, iPod or iPhone?
Also, even if Jobs were not a visionary, he’s still the greatest salesman in the tech world. Engineers may hold marketing and sales in disregard, but they are far far more important than the idea guy.
Qon 02 Mar 10
This phenomenon is especially obvious in the video game modding community. Every forum has at least twenty of these guys writing five page posts about their awesome mod idea, if only they could find the scripters/writers/modelers/coders/hackers/secretaries to build it for them. I think the idea guy is less common in professional software development, because somebody somewhere eventually has to justify why they’re even on the payroll.
Arthur Colemanon 02 Mar 10
Well, I wouldn’t be a true entrepreneur if I couldn’t get other people to paint the fence for me. It’s at the heart of starting a company…and the real entrepreneurs always seem to be able to influence people to work for little.
James D Kirkon 03 Mar 10
Interesting post, but more so the comments. The one thing I would add is taking into consideration the bubble of creativity and idea generation that most of this audience lives in. Sure there’s the classic “idea guy”. Crap, I’m pretty sure I’m one of them (groan). On the flip side, however, I’ve gone out of my way to learn, grow, become experienced and able to do “stuff”.
What’s more interesting to me, however is all of those folks that are not in the audience of this post/site/market. The folks that would love to become an entrepreneur or see an idea they have amount to something. Clearly the same rules David laid out apply. Learn, contribute, participate in the dream’s fulfillment.
Before all of that, of course, learn how to get ideas, good ideas, ones that can be developed for profit or whatever the desired end result. Then help make them happen!
David Kingon 03 Mar 10
Anyone that says “this thing is going to be Facebook meets Flickr, but for dogs! If we can just get 1% of the online dog market, we’ll be rich!” is not the ideas guy, he’s a moron. I know what you mean though.
I’ve always admired creativity / ideas within the skilled people. So, creative workers that can brainstorm together – course in any environment you need someone that can see through the inevitable bullshit (whatever the source) and bring the reality!
Mathew Pattersonon 03 Mar 10
this thing is going to be Facebook meets Flickr, but for dogs!
Quick, somebody go register Fleakr.com and make it happen.
Chrison 03 Mar 10
Idea guys are great to shoot the shit with over a couple of beers, but working for them is just intolerable. All that energy without any proper skill sets mean they have plenty of time to micromanage those with actual talent.
Andrew de Andradeon 03 Mar 10
“True. That’s why Apple should’ve fired Jobs long time ago.”
I think this hits the nail on the head and demonstrates the difference between a good idea guy and a bad idea guy.
Idea guys are okay if they’ve done enough introspection in their career to make the important usability and market/business decisions to bring their idea to live together with a capable team of developers.
I myself consider myself an idea guy, but I realize that I don’t have the functional skills to sit down and code an app from start to finish or to design a beautiful graphic design interface from start to finish.
Idea guys are great if they are also brilliant product managers.
Product management is the functional skill of idea guys. You can’t have just product ideas, you need to have ideas for solving problems creatively, such as be people problems, financial problems, legal problems, usability problems, etc.
An idea guy must also be a business savvy guy.
Finally, they also need to be great networkers. They need to be able to make connections to fill business needs. In a startup, the most valuable skill is hiring.
Carlos Tabordaon 03 Mar 10
I find this post very disrespectful. In the long run, every CEO and Founder is an IDEA guy. I’m sure someone at 37signals had the idea to come up with the products after basecamp, even the terrible ta-da list, which is so bad it was made free.
I’m sure the whole 37signals team would be out of a job if it wasn’t for the idea guy. So respect the idea guy.
Yes, I myself am an idea guy, however I have put our team together and am part in every single part of our projects. I’m also the main designer of our team, and was lucky enough to find the best developer i’ve known and made him my partner.
So now, if you can’t follow the lead on the idea guy, maybe you’re simply too slow to keep up with him, remember idea guys are the innovators and the ones who put technology to work in the right way.
DHHon 03 Mar 10
Carlos, the point is for people who just brings the idea. That’s not nearly enough. If you’re also doing design, this is not about you.
Carlos Tabordaon 03 Mar 10
@DHH, then you will find this blog post very funny.
Ricardoon 03 Mar 10
No one needs someone that is just going to be The Idea Guy, specially a startup which probably needs all the hands it can get to help out with something, coding, marketing, design, etc…
I agree with this post, The Idea Guy is a very important part of any startup as long as The Idea Guy helps executing these ideas, a good Idea Guy will be hands on if it is convinced that his/her idea is worth pursuing.
Ideas have no value if none executes them, there is not other way to know if an idea is good or bad UNTIL you execute it and find out by yourself. This is what I firmly believe and agree with this post – The Idea Guy is worthless if all it does is provide ideas… everyone and their dog can come up with ideas.
Vikash Shahon 03 Mar 10
I am trying NOT to be an “Idea Guy”. I have had about 10,000 ideas and finally one that I want to pursue. After hearing one of your Q and A podcasts, there is this distinct part I remember, “What if you don’t know how to design or program? Answer – Learn!”. So i am learning HTML and CSS, hunting and pecking for help/clues on the web or in person. My goal is to be an working asset at the company not an “Idea Guy”.
Anonymous Cowardon 03 Mar 10
James Coleon 03 Mar 10
At first I was offended by the title as I consider myself to be an “Ideas Guy”.
However the difference is that I usually am the one putting in the work and seeing as my social skills suck, I usually lack the ability to talk anyone else into helping do the work for me. Which is good, cause I’ve had to learn an awesome amount of skills.
So I liked where you went with the article as I can’t stand those that suggest everything and do nothing either.
Federicoon 03 Mar 10
It’s so funny that i just had a client ask us to develop the Facebook for dogs!
Hank Zyon 03 Mar 10
I think the word “Idea Guy” is not quite perfect. I got the point of what you wrote, but you see all of the comments, you don’t deliver what you are saying. we’re all confused. I believe your meaning of idea guy, it is who has idea but doesn’t have any execution, chasing for new ideas everyday, talking out loud for his/her ideas, accusing people for stealing his idea (actually he forgot everyone had a brain). + he shout out loud that was his idea after people has done the product. I believe execution means any action to make the idea happens, including from hiring to communicating with people to put on same page who work together with him to exist product from the idea, + coding.
My response might lead more confusion. But don’t make me feel like working without any idea or thinking is good. It’s animal job. I hate to be no brainer. I don’t know what is “idea guy”, if worker without idea is animal.
Kevin Monkon 03 Mar 10
There’s no need for an Idea Guy. I’ve worked on some really fruitful projects in the past. They’ve all had one thing in common. The “idea”, if you want to call it that, was born out of necessity and demand.
When I think back on my most successful projects, I realise that they weren’t so much a great idea but just a better way of doing something that was being done mandrolically.
History is littered with invention born out of demand rather than a great idea that had just never been thought of; thrashing machines replacing hard manual labour, the car replacing horses, facebook replacing keeping your contacts book up to date, iTunes replacing the CD rack and trips to the shop. Invention replacing tedium again and again and again.
The projects that have failed start “I’ve got a great idea!”.
The projects that are a success start “I need to find a better way to do this…”
Bob Jansenon 03 Mar 10
Good post and I agree on most points.
The problem with ‘Idea Guys’ is that idea’s have zero value. Idea’s are generic. Which makes them ‘useless’ and disposable. However, concepts are valuable.
Concepts are sets of idea’s that combined together strengthen each other and can be executable by a skilled team. A concept is the ‘what’ of a product / service. What are we building and for whom.
The skilled team makes sure that there is an answer to ‘how’ a product will be working. How it’s going to be designed, how it’s going to be build etc etc. It’s important that everybody working on a product is involved in ‘how’ the product works. But don’t forget that idea guys work on the ‘how’ by transforming ideas into good concepts that holds answers and promote actions within the team.
Good idea guys protect the core concept that is worked on by the whole team. They’re like glue and understand that just only throwing ideas around makes them useless and break teams apart.
Because of my abstract thinking I consider myself some kind of idea guy. But by developing other skills involved to be able to conceptualize ideas and make them executable, I’m only 10-20% of what is described in this post. The rest of my skills and time is involved in answering the ‘how’ just like the rest of the team.
Basecamp is a simple idea executed into a beautiful concept that appeals to a lot of people. If it wasn’t for the 10-20% ‘Idea guy’ that lives within one (or more) persons of the 37Signals team, we wouldn’t be reading this awesome blog and using cool products.
Kenny Sabareseon 03 Mar 10
Not everyone can be a programmer you know :(
Tim Bon 03 Mar 10
But anyone can be at least one of these things – writer, designer, programmer, marketer, salesman, recruiter, researcher, project manager. And if you can combine any of them with ‘leader’, then you’re in with a shout. That’s the point.
Julia Chanterayon 03 Mar 10
What’s worse is the Idea Guy, who doesn’t do any sales or implementation, but somehow gets to be in charge of the company, and then changes the idea just as other people are doing the hard work of sales and implementation. Why not finish something off and make some money out of it, before going on to the next idea.
Deltaplanon 03 Mar 10
Idea Guys can be useful, if they are used for what they are good at : sell their idea, find customers, etc…
I’m an independent software project manager. For almost 10 years, my core business has been to work for such “Idea Guys” in order to reasonably evaluate the feasibility of their ideas (technically, and in terms of development time/budget), and to gather technical teams to actually build the software that these guys had imagined.
Then, once these teams begin their work, what do these “Idea Guys” do ? Ideally : they spend maybe 20 to 30% of their time with me trying to refine their ideas into a software design, and the rest of their time traveling to look for customers for their product. If they work like this, it can be pretty successful.
What they should NOT do however, is come to ANOTHER idea immediately after their team has only started to actually build the product they had first imagined. This is the real catch : an Idea Guy usually doesn’t stop thinking, it’s rare they stop after a great idea…
I’ve had several of them with whom I’ve had a very hard time convincing them that there was no way to start 3 or 4 new projects while the first one wasn’t even close to be delivered to their customers (especially if the dev team is only 2 or 3 people…). But usually, once they have understood that the best they can do to actually participate in the success of their “idea” is to work on the commercial part (and generally, they can be pretty good at it), and to delay any “new idea” until the first one has been realistically implemented.
John Gallagheron 03 Mar 10
I don’t think these are the kind of guys that David is referring to with the term “Idea Guy”. The people you worked with were doing something else as well as just coming up with the idea.
If they’re helping refine the idea into a design, they are helping to design the product.
If they’re going out talking to customers, that’s marketing, sales, publicity and business dev. And they’re going to come back with lots of great feedback to help shape the product.
As I understand it, David’s notion of the “Idea Guy” is “The guy who supplies the idea then does nothing else helpful.”
Adam Nearyon 03 Mar 10
Glad everyone got to vent. :-) I agree 100%, and I am a CEO with specific functional skills, and I am helping develop our product…so I am right with you.
However, right now there is this angry “screw the business guy” mentality in the start-up world, and I see it all the time. The technical talent on the team is critical, but if you’re a technical guy and you have no business guy to think about strategy, finance, accounting, marketing, potential partnerships, response to potential threats, etc…you’re as bad off as an Idea Guy with no functional skills.
(Unless you’re so talented that it won’t matter, in which case it won’t matter) But I see talented tech guys out there flailing right now, and I think it’s because of a new “screw the business guy” model, and I think it’s a shame.
Ayodejion 03 Mar 10
Idea guy – hmmm, excusable when you are 15 or thereabout. It’s performance and results thereafter that counts.
Anonymous Cowardon 03 Mar 10
Here’s something idea guys can do: sue others :) http://www.fakesteve.net/2010/03/were-not-litigious-we-just-like-to-sue-people.html
Christofferon 03 Mar 10
Get over yourself programmers ;-)
The internet is a horrible testament to programmers that think they don’t need an “idea man” (or as I would call it an idea developer).
There is no such thing as a good or a bad idea; it is how you develop that idea, that is either good or bad. And programmers and “idea men” alike get this wrong.
Robert M. Cavezzaon 03 Mar 10
I was the idea guy – but then I taught myself php, mysql, and jquery 4 months ago and now I have a product! Awesome post!
Patrick Ryanon 03 Mar 10
I’m dealing with an “idea guy” right now. I decided just last night to cut him off at logo development.
Anonymous Cowardon 03 Mar 10
Are you a serial idea-starting person? If so, what can you change to end that cycle? The goal is to be an idea-shipping person. -Seth Godin http://tinyurl.com/y9ty63x
John Brockon 03 Mar 10
I would classify the idea guy into two main breeds; the Broke Idea Guy and the Rich Idea Guy. Each having two attributues; skilled or dumb.
The broke and dumb idea guy will never be able to reach success. He has no money to get things done through people and no skills to do it himself.
The broke and skilled idea guy may reach success, if he can find the time to do it himself and wait it out. He may also convince others to take the risk with him, maybe.
The rich and dumb idea guy may reach success, if he can keep his mouth shut long enough for those he is paying to get his vision done. His success often depends on the tolerance of his purchased labor.
The rich and skilled idea guy has the best chance of success. He has the money to pay and the skills to take part in the development and keep his labor happy.
Tonyon 04 Mar 10
I agree… however… all of those people who are building the business from the ground up sure as hell better have the “IDEA GUY” skills in their back pocket. Because there will come a time when a new, and Effective idea is needed. If everyone is so closed off from the outside world or new ideas, the business will trip and fall behind very quickly.
Ashon 04 Mar 10
very interesting comments by all. I am an ‘Idea Guy’
It’s important to remember that if the ‘idea guy’ knows nothing about technical, ui or marketing then he is pretty useless, as he he cannot possibly contribute anything to the product.
however ‘idea guys’ like me who know a lot about technical, graphics and marketing are extremely effective. Just because they may not have the skills to sit down and code or have the raw talent to design a beautiful UI doesn’t mean we have no place in the web world.
In fact quite the opposite. In many cases great ideas are sparked from an understanding of the non-technical majority’s frustrations. That idea turns great when the ‘idea guy’ knows the technical solution and understands his customers. Not having the ability to sit and write code is not a down fall.
As ‘idea guys’ you have to understand its just as difficult for us to get caught up by enthusiastic coders that may not have the right skill set for the job, but it’s very difficult for us to work this out. looking at an example of code to us is pretty useless.
there are many so called coders out there who’s work is shocking their scripts throw errors that they ignore and even basic non-valid html is evident. We need to watch out for you as much as you need to watch out for us.
So play fair, don’t go blaming the ‘idea guy’ all the time. It can be your fault just as much as theirs.
In future make a decision based on what your gut feeling is it will usually be correct.
and if any of you are actually blaming the ‘idea guy’ for getting involved in.“this thing is going to be Facebook meets Flickr, but for dogs! If we can just get 1% of the online dog market, we’ll be rich!”
then more fool you.
Poloon 04 Mar 10
There’s no excuse not to contribute in a project even if you have limited skills.
I’ve moved from a development role into the idea guy role. I started in web app dev years ago, but the people I work with are far more talented than I.
My experience and understanding our customer makes add value, but I need to convey that in a way that’s useful. In Omnigraffle I build out UI design concepts, and write the use cases.
There are no new ideas at the macro level. Innovation happens at the granular, and applying a radical new philosophy to an existing idea.
Jean-Pierre Bobbaerson 05 Mar 10
I believe this is a to simplified and a populistic statement.
Some people are gifted to find idea’s. “The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can…...... :-) “
If you are familiar with the Myers-Brigg test you will know that the “Inventor” is an ENTP. Thomas Edison and Walt Disney are ENTP’s And for example Steve Jobs (Bill Gates also) is an ENTJ also called “The Executive.”
Both profiles only appear between 2-5 % of the population. Both profiles are very much “Idea guys”.
I would not be surprised that Jason is an ENTP or ENTJ :-)
So stating that start-ups don’t need “Idea guy’s” is not recognizing scientific facts that some people have different talents then others !
FrancescoKon 05 Mar 10
Steve Jobs is not an “Idea guy”. He’s a visionary, yes, but most of all he’s a brilliant salesman and marketer.
bizdon 06 Mar 10
Relax peoplez! Everyone is “the idea guy”. The problem is that this should not be a role in and of itself. It should be part of everyone’s role to share ideas that will enhance the end product and for this reason we created a genius invention if I say so myself, and it’ called: THE FREAKIN SUGGESTION BOX! but it doesn’t need to be a “box” necessarily. As a general rule, we require all “idea people” to carry the concept all the way through and show the impact on revenues & P/L.
grimenon 07 Mar 10
I think nothing was wrong with the blog post, it’s 80% true. But the comments I read, I just see jealousy. You all sound frustrated, how come? I’m an “idea guy” partly, and highly educated idea guy that execute my own ideas that other people pay me to do and still ensure I get majority slice – because, to get some of your pitbulls on me, my ideas makes peoples jaws drop in some way – either they think i’m crazy guy that will never get a proper job (until they see my CV), or “some kind of modern day genius” that will make them rich, call it street smart.
I love Seth Godin, he’s a great thinker, but one of the things he said quoted above is just not fully true: “we shouldn’t be ‘afraid’ of “creative people”, because as he said everyone is creative, we should be ‘afraid’ of people that get things done… that’s the people we should work with, be our friends, send emails to!
Let me alter it: We should be VERY afraid of people that is both creative and get things done – the things that dont’get done…get a partner that is creative and get things done.
I’ll end here with saying the richest people I know – money and life wise – are the ones that came up with brilliant ideas and exected them. Both worlds. Stop hating crative people, you need them.
Deltaplanon 07 Mar 10
What I was saying, is that when you have to work with such an “Idea Guy”, there are indeed ways to turn him into someone who will be really useful to the project. That was the sense of my comment.
In other words, when you are building a product after an idea that comes from such an “Idea Guy”, the trick is to guide his creativity to make him come with ideas that help the project, and not ideas that prevent the team from actually focusing on the development of the project.
This work these “Idea Guys” should be assigned to is :
- refining their initial idea, under the guidance of the project manager. This means, avoiding 180° turns every couple of weeks. We all know that these guys won’t come with a complete and definitive spec, ever. So the trick is to guide them to prioritize the functionalities, to reassure them that there will be parts that can be decided later, etc… Plus, it forces them to focus on the idea that is currently being implementing, instead of letting their mind wander randomly to another “incredible” idea.
- working with the salespeople. Because “Idea Guys” are generally the ones who know the most what they are selling (it’s all in their head, for them it’s generally way clearer than for other people). And, by confronting them actively with the customers, it may help them to get a grasp on the real-world problem, and this is generally what helps them refining their initial idea properly.
Because the major problem is that, in such a project much more than in others, it’s usually impossible to get a grasp on the actual users of the products, so there will be a real work to find out if the ideas that have come from the “Idea Guy” are really that useful for the actual “future” users of the products…
Blair Ron 08 Mar 10
One example of this is one our country’s largest telecos. As far as I can tell the CEO isn’t a tech guy. Their much promoted mobile network breaks down all the time. If it was Apple’s network, Steve would know how to get it working properly. Idea + execution is valuable.
This discussion is closed.