God, save me from the idea man.

Many times in my professional career, I am approached by a guy with an idea. The idea can vary, but it usually deals with the production of a software solution.  The conversation goes like this:

"Just design, develop, implement, and  produce documentation for this solution and we will both get rich.", says the idea man. 

"How will the data flow?", I ask. 

"However you design it.", the idea guy answers. 

"What will the user interface look like?", I ask. 

"Whatever you want it to look like.", answers the idea guy. 

"Are you going to write the tech manuals?", I ask.  

"No, you are, for you are the one that knows how the product works." comes the reply. 

"Are you going to develop the marketing plan, and go on the road and sell the product?", I ask. 

"Only the developer really knows the program capabilities and is the best person to sell it." comes the reply. 

"Where is the money for development going to come from?", I ask. 

"You will be rich once we start selling the many copies of the program to the end users.", idea guy replies.

"What is it exactly that you are going to do?", I ask. 

"Why I have already done my part", say the idea man, "I came up with the idea."

My translation of all this:

"I have an idea.  All I want you to do is make my idea a reality.  You develop and implement the program, produce the accompanying documentation, write a marketing plan, and sell the end product, all at your cost.  When it is all done, you will get a percentage, say thirty-five percent, of the profits.  By the way, I need to make $2,250.00 a week while you develop the program, just to cover my bare living expenses, and where do I pick up my company car?"

The way I see it.

You need an idea.  No business was ever started without an idea.  However, the idea is often the easiest part to come up with.  The hard work is in making the idea a reality.  I will gladly trade ten idea men for one person that knows how to solve a problem and implement the solution.  The idea man wants to trade in ideas, which are theoretical things which you cannot put your hands on.  A business needs revenues, dollars and cents which can be held in your hand, or more appropriately, deposited in a bank.  Every time a project starts to turn into work for the idea guy, the idea guy will have a new idea, complete with a whole bunch of new tasks and responsibilities.  Of course, the idea guy will not have the ability to do any of these tasks, so once again they fall to the people who can get the job done.

Idea guys are the one with no work skills, they feel they need to come up with ideas to compensate.  If they had any management ability, they would be running a successful business.  Business success is usually a series of planned steps to produce a stable work environment.  Big idea, dropped after 4 months, followed by another big idea to be dropped after six months, followed by another big idea, ad nauseum, is a recipe for failure.

You got a big idea?  Call someone else.

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Copyright 2001  Jeffrey B. Goodman. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 05, 2002 .