Steve Blank, a living legend in the startup and innovation world, recently said “Execution pays your salary. Innovation pays your pension“. It is a provocative quote which gets you thinking. Why did a guru like Steve Blank say that? How did he arrive to that?
First off – there is nothing wrong with execution. You cannot innovate without execution. In past blog posts we emphasised multiple times the importance of execution. In many blog posts we mentioned that startups and innovation are more about execution, than about having unique ideas. We mentioned that “ideas are cheap” and we give each of the two pillars the following percentage of importance – 15% idea, 85% execution. Steve Blank is not saying anything against execution.
However basic passive execution will not get you far. Will not take you places. Short term opportunities will keep you going (“pay your salary”).
With the link to “pension” Steve Blank is emphasising the fact that innovation is long term. He is emphasising bigger, riskier opportunities. Do not expect immediate results from such opportunities. It’s like planning now for when we go on pension.
We are not all the same age, but most of us understand the concept of pension (hopefully). With the revolution that is currently underway in the pension world some of you might think using the word “pension” makes this quote less relevant – especially with future generations who will probably not have a pension as we know it – however – we still think the word “pension” is very powerful in this context. It gives a clear link to longevity. To the beyond the short term plans.
Innovation is risky. So counting on it “for your pension” is a big calculated risk. However done right it is a great path towards your “retirement”.
The topic of short-term vs long term has a long and winding history. The Aspen Institute for example created a framework – the prosperity project – to discourage short-termism. Many of us are just busy executing – making sure the short-term is ok – while we “forget” to innovate and to look at the long-term.
There is one final element we would put in the mix with EXECUTION & INNOVATION in a recipe for success. And that is DISCIPLINE. You must be diligent and disciplined in your execution and also while you aim to innovate.
We hope we helped you dissect better what Steve Blank said. At least the above is our take at it.
And may your pension start much earlier than when the government / private fund gives you your first payment!
Keywords : Steve Blank , innovation, execution, discipline, long term, short term, business, goals, strategy, leadership, success, management, Malta