It has become a mantra in the tech industry: “Ideas are a dime a dozen, it’s the ability to carry them out that matters.” “Anyone can have an idea, but showing up is what matters.” and “If you really cared, you would build it yourself.”
I hate it.
Here is the rub: People who come up with good ideas do not always have the resources to carry them out. In fact, they probably rarely do. Vision and ability are two completely different skills. And even if they have the ability, their circumstances can prevent them from doing what they want to do. Perhaps someone cannot be without is living check to check or can not be without employer-paid health care. Perhaps they have others they must care for and do not have the time to see their projects to completion.
Dismissing ideas out of hand, especially ideas from those with experiences and knowledge different from our own means we ignore the needs and wants of those outside our areas of expertise. We become insular and stagnate, telling ourselves the same stories. Repeating the same ideas tired instead of exploring new paths for insight.
While those outside our fields may vaguely understand what it means to be an editor or build a website, they don’t understand our methodology, tools, or vocabulary. So they use metaphors and make analogies (such as “ebay for flower growers” or “Foursquare for canvassers”). While on the surface the ideas may sound ridiculous or unimportant, they can often contain important complexities that, when fleshed out, hold ideas for interesting problems that haven’t been solved.
This does not mean that we should listen to every half-baked idea from those who come in through the door and says they have an idea they’re looking for partners to profit share with. Listen to your friends closely, especially the smart ones. Their experiences and unpolished ideas may reshape the way you see the world.