Is the Value in the Idea or the Implementation?

(or Do you believe in God?)

For the past few weeks I have been involved in a dialogue of sorts on the TEDtalks LinkedIn Group about whether the value of an idea is in the idea itself or rather in the implementation.

This led to a pithy, but profound exchange between myself and Wan Chi Lau. To spare you the details of the other parts of the conversation, I have excerpted just the relevant threads of the conversation. Thanks, Wan for the permission to reprint your comments.


Without an idea, you have nothing to implement.


Actually I would disagree…the evidence is all around us. The entire Universe is one big implementation without any "idea." We are of the Nike mantra…."Just Do It."


Only if you are an atheist. I am not.


Well, clearly I am 🙂

This brief exchange is the whole essence of the argument and I am curious to know if the following hypothesis is true: If you believe the value is in the idea, then you are likely to be theistic; if you believe the value is in the implementation of the idea, then you are likely to be atheistic.

Ron has written extensively about this in these two posts:



  1. Tammy Mathews says:

    Great debate.

    An idea that isn?t shared with the right audience has no value. Likewise an implementation that doesn?t meet the customer?s expectations also lacks value. It?s only when an idea, great service and the right customer all come together that magic (value) happens.

    If value was an equation I think it would look something like the following:

    The right customer + the right idea + outstanding service = Value

  2. Matthew Tol says:


    Interesting theory.

    To take Tammy’s equation example, it may well be as follows:

    Customer need x IC x delivery = value

    I don’t know whether theism comes in to the issue.

    Our perceptions are what they are, same as those of our customers who use our services – their views are often different on a similar issue. I do note however that a number of them really like the idea/concept stuff we do with them but ALL of them appreciate the implementation! Without implementation, an idea is really just a “warm fuzzy”. “Warm Fuzzy’s” don’t really deliver much apart from themselves (I know I’ll get some responses to this!)

    So, whilst an idea needs to happen at some stage (or does it?) the implementation (or doing at least something) will generally be more effective.

  3. My consistent position on this has been that the answer to the posed question, “Is the value in the idea or the implementation?” is clear. It has to be in the idea. Without the idea you have nothing to implement. In addition, there is no good way to implement a bad or harmful idea.

  4. Steve Benway says:

    Not to go all technical on you, but the definition of “implement” (the verb) is “to fulfill; perform; carry out; to put into effect according to or by means of a definite plan or procedure(,” which would tend to lend credence to the “idea begets the implementation” side of the arguement.

    And not to be contrary, but I am an atheist who believes the idea is where the value lies.

    To take it a step further (and you may have already articulated this elsewhere), this is really the Pricing on Purpose arguement, is it not? If the value is in the implementation, then you derive the “value” from the number of hours it takes to complete the implementation. If, however, the “value” is inherent to the idea itself, then it follows that you price the implementation based upon the benefit to the customer, not the resources expended in the implementation.

  5. Steve, it most definitely IS a PwP argument! The idea is clearly where the value is.

  6. Eric Fetterolf says:


    I too, enjoyed that discussion. I still follow it today.

    I don’t think it is a function of belief so much as a function of the word value. I really liked the analogy of money and unrealization. It struck at the core of the difference between the two camps.

    The focus is on the term value. For some, value does not exist without realization. For others, value does exist without realization.

    If you have a bank account with a large positive balance, you could be said to have great value, great wealth. But if you never spend the money, if you never acquire discresionary time, what wealth do you really have? You cannot eat the number on a bank statement.

    Until the idea is put into practice, even if it is solely used to foster another idea, the value it contains will never be realized.

    But, like you said, what do you put into practice if there are no ideas in the first place? What value is there in implementing nothing?

    It has been and continues to be a fun mental exercise.

  7. Agreed, the definition of value is important here. It has been fun, but I stopped following the original post on LinkedIn. It is way too repetitive.

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