You may have heard that an idea is only as good as its execution. The statement in all its brilliance is somewhat flawed.
Well executed ideas are time and again observed to fall short on gaining traction, even when demand exists. This is something I have personally experienced with projects that my clients have worked on, my own projects and out in the wild.
At times similar execution worked well in the past for others, more often similar execution on similar ideas worked brilliantly shortly after. An umpteen number of rationalization usually enshew, most involve: executing differently, pivoting early, high burn rates etc.
Until the effects of incorrect Timing have been considered none of these may be entirely correct nor incorrect for that matter.
Timing can fall under a number of topics depending on the situation.
tl;dr; The timing of when an idea is executed is just as/or more important than the execution itself. It is possible to be too early, early, on time, fashionably late or too late. Each can make or break the idea and its execution.
Predicting timing is tricky and is an excercise that gets earier with time and experience. It’s an important excercise as outcome’s of not considering timing have unpredictable outcomes.
State of Technology
If the success of the idea depends on technology available from other sources at the time, the question worth asking is “are we really there yet?”. Explained with examples:
- In 2001 Bill Gates believed that in 5 years tablets would be the most popular form of PC’s. He was too early to execute, the technology wasn’t quite there yet.
- In 2006 James Cameron explained that he waited nearly a decade to make Avatar because the technology was not advanced enough to execute his vision for the movie.
This one is a little tough to explain, can vary drammatically depending on the situation and usually pertains more to the message and words used to convey the idea. Simply put at times the market is simply not ready to accept that there may be a need for the solution that is being offered. The question “is the market is ready for what we have to say” is defintely worth an ask.
- Airbnb was able to get a much needed boost during the Democratic National Convention – a message and move that gave them a lot of coverage from the news media
- Diaspora clearly got the timing right on this one. There were numerous people before them that wanted to create a facebook alternative. But they were able to pick the ideal time to ask for funding for a privacy concious platform at the peak of the backlash against facebook privacy concerns
- The ones that get the message timing wrong are too many to single out. A great case study for examples would be observing some of the greatest economists of the recent past, the best of them show gloom and doom when people are euphoric and gloat when there is blood on the streets.
Risk Management and Feasability
Timing is very often an internal constraint. Executing an idea or a part of it too early can cause high burn rates and depelete resources significantly. Often this is done with due to overestimating demand and just as often out of fear of loosing out.
For a better understanding of timing in relating to risk management I am writing two additional essays the first is How to lose the right way and the second Investing lessons learned from floor traders.