The title of this post is something I heard from someone in a meeting today, and what it means is something like: "You can write anything you want - but doing what you wrote is another story."
In a sense this is a double-edged notion - while it can be very liberating to create grand plans, they can also be very intimidating. When it comes down to execution, what you wrote can be very hard to do.
Accountability is crucial in a team
This quote came out during a discussion in a team meeting, and was triggered when an "idea guy" was creating a wonderful vision filled with fantastic possibilities for our products.
The "doer guy," whose team had to actually implement all of the ideas in our software is the one who said, "The paper accepts everything. My team can't accept everything. Now, let's get real about what we're going to do." In other words, he wanted to take the possibilities down to a list he could commit to, and be held accountable for.
The interesting thing is that our team hasn't always been this way. Typically, we would just say "yes" to everything (or at least to too many things), then try to make it fit during the product development cycle. The consequences of this approach? Disappointment in one form or another - either we fell short on product functionality or we missed our delivery date.
What changed? Well, we agreed we'd be more resolute about creating specific commitments, and more diligent about enforcing accountability for those commitments.
We're not perfect at this yet, but the direction is right and the impact has been positive for us.
Even if "The paper accepts everything," that doesn't mean the team has to.