Rabbi's🧠Deli W3 July 2020

The 80-80 Rule, Idea x Execution = Creativity?

💡 The Interaction Between Idea & Execution.

This week I spent time thinking about what makes a good idea. Right now my belief is that whether or not something is creative depends on the idea and how it was executed. I would say the difference between an idea and a solution is the execution. Without execution, there is simply nothing. What I am trying to work out is how the interaction of Idea and execution lead to a creative end result.

In some contexts, creativity is the end-all goal. The easiest example is even called “the creative industry” in which I understand we find film, music, art, architecture and advertising. In those occupations, creativity is essential to be noticed. Because by being noticed you have a better chance at making an above-average living in those fields. Once something becomes labelled as “Creative” everything is being done to make it a process in order to maximize the production and thus profits.

The annoying thing is that it turns out Creativity is really hard to commoditize. The tragedy is that once it is commoditized we usually say “it lost its creative edge”. So perhaps a specific process becomes a burden to creativity. And the results of the process become boring and the product ends up becoming a commodity. In my opinion, a great example is how every car add looks exactly the same.

Two years back Tide even used this fact to make a meta-joke about it, which turned out to be an amazing add.

Of course, this does not mean commodities don’t have value, they obviously do. It’s just that they usually don’t earn the same amount of attention and value-premium from the customers.

By having a creative solution you can set yourself apart from all the customers. Sometimes we believe that Ideas are all that matter. But I think this is very lazy thinking. I am convinced that to be creative there is a strong interdependence between idea and execution. The good news if you do not have many ideas you can still be seen as creative because of the execution part.



This picture above from @jackbutcher is quite interesting. The most expensive item on the invoice is “knowing which screw to turn”, which I read as “What is the big idea?”.
It reminds me of a quote attributed to Einstein:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

This is a nice visual and its also a cool quote but I don’t think they are applicable everywhere. In my limited experience, the hardest part turned out to be “turning the screw”. There are constraints in the Idea space but there are also constraints in the execution space. And I believe the Idea space itself is mostly constrained by the constraints what can be done ie. the execution part. Again, one very valuable way to be creative is to find a way to execute on an idea despite all the constraints.

There is a good meme out there called “Brief VS Budget”:

Peter Kokot on Twitter: "Client brief vs. Client budget 😂… "

To me, this meme represents the interaction of idea x execution with one constraint “Budget”. Someone should make a meme about politicians “Campaign Promise to deliver” VS “Actually delivered”.

The whole game is to find a way to execute an idea despite the constraints. And usually when you do that people will call it creative.

You could by bookshelves full of books that promise to reveal a secret or a process that increases your chances at having more outcomes one can call “creative”?

Actually Sir Hegarty (the H in BBH, an add agency) probably said it best

"It’s 80% idea, but also 80% execution"

I would like to add an essential spice to that recipe and tell you there is one ingredient that you will need and will make both parts better at least 80% of the time and that is Courage.


Good ID x Good Execution

Bad ID x Good Execution

Good ID x Bad Execution

Bad ID x Bad Execution

I think that optimizing for one of the two variables leads to different payoffs although at the moment I don’t know what specific combo leads to the green, pink or blue payoff. I would prefer to think that Greenline had more courage and the blue line was a good idea x good execution but not that exciting (like most sequels and remakes).

Nevertheless, we know that both execution and ideas are important and thus we know that Bad x Bad can never be good and at its best can become a joke. However, A Bad idea with great execution might still turn out good, think about the movie “The Room” that James Franco turned into a critically acclaimed movie “The Disaster Artist”.

In the end, creativity is important but people will cut you checks for something because it works and thus I would say execution is more important than the idea. To me, it seems that Disney has mostly been making movies that would fit my blue line. While Amazon seems to be focussed on things that fit the green line.

Wrap up

If you are stuck know that bosses usually need two things from you. Bring value or take away a Pain. People Hate pain (painkillers far outsell vitamin D supplements) so if you can make it so that they experience less pain you will likely be loved.

However, if you want to stand out you are going to have to be good at both execution and idea generation to bring value (the rewards are bigger).

Do not make the mistake to try to do this alone. Have the courage to collaborate with others and you will have better chances at increasing your creative output.

Have a great day 👋

P.S Feel free to forward this to anyone you like, or don’t like.
I love hearing back from so if you have any feedback just send a replay or a tweet.
P.P.S: List of past recommended 📚

Leave a comment