Making Ideas Happen

We all have ideas. Maybe you have plans to backpack through Europe or you’ve recently come up with a great plot for a novel. It’s also possible that you have a solid idea for the next must-have app. Generating ideas is a good thing. Sitting on those ideas and not translating them into finished products is both frustrating and unproductive.

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In Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of the Behance Network, explains why most ideas never happen and the steps we can take to ensure that our ideas don’t slip through the cracks. The book is a true guide for creatives.

Belsky states that, “Creativity is the catalyst for brilliant accomplishments, but it is also the greatest obstacle.” He also states that most ideas are born and lost in isolation. In other words, a bulk of the ideas that we generate never make it out of our minds.

Lucky for us, Belsky has devised a formula from his experience and research:

Making Ideas Happen = the idea + organization and execution + forces of community + leadership capability

Often times, the most potent forces that kill off new ideas are our own limitations. Belsky argues that organization, prioritization, and management of energy is more important than the quality of the ideas we wish to pursue. I agree. When most people think of creatives, they picture messy work spaces with papers and notes sprawled over every visible surface. In some cases, people thrive in that type of environment. Most of us, however, do not. We become overwhelmed and spend a majority of our time feeling frazzled versus moving our ideas forward.

“A relentless bias toward action pushes ideas forward," Belsky says. Organization serves as the foundation.

Each project should be organized as a separate entity. Is the project current or a back burner item that should be revisited at some future point? Within each 'bucket' (such as novel, travel, or education), we can further break the project into bite-size action steps. Each action step should begin with a verb such as “Write 10 pages a week” or “Apply for passport.” Action steps should only be created for current projects. Action steps can be developed for back burner projects only when they become current. By understanding our priorities when it comes to project management, we are better able to balance our time and energy without wearing ourselves out.

Keeping projects organized might seem to contradict the fluidity we often desire. I don't think that is the case. I have found it helpful to keep a running document with a list of my current, ongoing, and back burner projects. I developed my own action method binder that includes individual sheets to manage the flow of each project.

Forces of community involves developing buy-in from friends, family, and colleagues. By sharing your ideas with others, you engage a community of people that strengthen your ideas and push you to succeed. Never underestimate the power of feedback.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Making Ideas Happen or ordering a digital copy for your e-reader. Still not sure if you want to read Making Ideas Happen? Belsky gave a TED Talk presentation about his book last year. The video can be found here. Get familiar with the valuable principles Belsky shares.