The power of craft

Have you ever looked at a really fine, handmade item closely? Look at the stitching in a well-tailored suit – it’s so tiny and precise that it looks nearly impossible to have been done by human hands. Or a really well-done weld – it looks like a series of identical coins leaning on each other in an infinite loop. Again, hard to believe it’s done by human hands. If you’re a sports fan, you know the skill it takes to make a basketball arc perfectly into the hoop, or to hit a home run. All of these things, driven by skill and practice, are examples of craftsmanship.

Learning a craft takes skill and time. Over time you learn how to execute on an idea flawlessly – those tiny stitches, that perfect weld, that arcing basketball.

Business skills are no different. One of my favorite graphic designers told me that she realized early on that having a great eye and design skills was just the beginning – she had to have absolute mastery of the tools of her trade to execute on the visions in her mind’s eye.


In a recent conversation with an angel investor, he told me that most of the startups he’s worked with don’t fail for lack of great ideas – they fail because they can’t execute on those ideas. They don’t know the craft of business. In another conversation with an operations executive, we were reviewing the levels of success they had with their existing marketing programs. The marketing ideas were solid. As we dove into the details of how those ideas had been executed, I found fatal flaws in their execution. They didn’t know the craft of marketing.

You’ll never find a really finely made good that was made quickly by inexperienced people. They haven’t mastered the craft to do it. They may have the vision of what they want, but don’t know how to get there.

Give your ideas their due. When you reach the point of execution, find the craftspeople who can help you realize your personal vision.

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