Michael Gingras

Interested in lots of things, but mainly -- crypto, browsertech, and interfaces.

Ideas Are Not Cheap

January 20, 2024 product

It’s common to hear that “Ideas are cheap, execution is expensive”. The saying goes that anyone can come up with ideas — they are a commodity and it takes hustle, grit, determination and skill to execute on them. I disagree with this sentiment for two reasons.

  1. LLMs are making execution “cheap”. Many AI stans believe we are not far from a world where “AI agents” are able to take on human tasks like writing code, designing products, and strategizing. If this is true, then the cost of execution will be driven down to zero. The only thing that will matter is the quality of the idea. Perhaps taste matters here too — the agent might be able to design 100+ version of a great product, and it’s the role of the human in the loop to act as a curator. However, it’s even more ambitious to believe AI agents will develop taste, or that end users will be able to tweak a product to their individual liking. Either way, the cost of execution is going down, and ideas are what matter.

  2. This is perhaps a hot take, but it’s easy to “get good” at execution. The path to becoming a great executor is well-trodden. There are many books, courses, and mentors that can help you get there. Taking coding for example. Anyone with sufficient time and effort can become a great coder. The same goes for design, marketing, and sales. The path to becoming a great idea generator is much less clear. There are no books, courses, or mentors that can help you get there. It’s a much more nebulous skill that requires practice and luck. It’s also a skill that is much more difficult to measure. It’s easy to measure the quality of a product, but it’s much more difficult to measure the quality of an idea. Bad ideas may be “cheap”, but to develop good ideas is a skill that is much more difficult to acquire.

Caring about good ideas also helps you know what to spend time learning. Once you have a great idea, you become so much more motivated to learn what is required to execute on these ideas. Have a great idea for a brand new browser? Super ambitious? Hell ya. Well now we have the foundation of an idea and can start learning what we need to build.

It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of building, baby.

In progress