The head of a computer science department recently wrote this article about business majors who would call-in to ask if a programmer would join their projects. He writes that the value of a product comes from its execution, not just the idea.
Another article also mentions that the execution is what matters and that an "ideas guy" is really just deadweight to a business that isn't making any sales.
The best bet is to tell the non-programmer that if he's serious about building his great idea, he should:
- Approach potential customers with the idea -- if he doesn't know who they are, then he can't get revenue anyway.
- Get them to sign a non-binding letter of interest to raise capital -- if they won't sign, then they aren't really interested.
- Pay developers the market rate to build the product -- if he can't convince developers to take less than the market rate, then his idea really isn't cutting edge.