If you’ve ever been frustrated by having an idea (or 100 ideas) that you thought were great, only to have them never get off the ground or shrivel up and die half-way done, then you’re going to love “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality.”
Scott Belsky has written a book about the nuts and bolts techniques of taking a great idea — that spark between synapses in our brain — and turning it into something real and tangible.
Having a great idea is the easy part. Developing a product you can make a profit from, or offering a new service that will differentiate your business — that’s where the rubber meets the road. Easier thought than done.
As the author writes in the book’s introduction:
“Ideas don’t happen because they are great — or by accident. * * * This book aims to take pie-in-the-sky notions of how the creative process unfolds and bring them down to earth. Creative people are known for winging it; improvising and acting on intuition is, in some way, the haloed essence of what we do and who we are. However, when we closely analyze how the most successful and productive creatives, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople truly make ideas happen, it turns out that “having the idea” is just a small part of the process, perhaps only 1 percent of the journey. Thomas Edison once famously quipped, ‘Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.'”
Making Ideas Happen is all about that 99% perspiration. The book leads you through what it takes to turn your ideas into tangible results. It covers:
- project management
- how to maintain your attention and stick to projects
- harnessing the creative power of your community
- developing the chemistry of the creative team
… and a lot more. There’s even a section about the Behance method of prioritizing projects and being personally productive, called the Action Method. The Action Method includes an online app, an iPhone app, and printed meeting notepages you can use to follow up and act on your creative ideas.
Now, in case you are tempted to dismiss this book as yet another take on project management, let me tell you what’s different.
First of all, this is a book that will strike a chord with creative people. If you are a graphic designer, fashion designer, artist, writer, hair stylist or any kind of creative entrepreneur, your strong suit has probably always been your creativity, not your project management skills. And chances are you hate boring project management apps. You may have found them to be too restrictive or not suited for the freeform creative process you live and work by. But the project management outlined in Making Ideas Happen is precisely for creative types. It is a solid framework oriented toward taking action and getting concrete results, but not overly restrictive. It won’t suffocate you with too much detail. It won’t suck out all the creative enjoyment from what you do by enslaving you to a complex process.
Second, this is a “social” book. What I mean is that it emphasizes working together productively within your community of like-minded artists and other creative people. You NEED the stimulation of others around you — creativity feeds off of creative stimulation. The book also emphasizes the need to work within teams. In many disciplines today, it’s hard to be effective and see your ideas bear fruit, unless you are able to work with others in teams. The end product you are working toward may require input from a variety of skill sets — more than one single person typically brings.
Another point about working with others: the book explains the benefit to be gained from “dreamers” and “doers” joining forces. Each can bring to the table what the other may lack. The dreamers stun others with the sheer force of their creativity, and the doers pull together the details needed for ideas to become concrete. The book points out some successful creative partnerships of doers and dreamers (Threadless T-Shirt is profiled in the book).
Who this Book is For
If you think this book is primarily for artists, you’d be wrong. The book is grounded throughout with business realities.
And in the end, it’s a book for those entrepreneurs and business people whose business success is based on creative success … the “creative class” to borrow a Richard Florida term. That includes not just artists or those with the word “designer” in their job descriptions. It also includes anyone who is creative in a broader sense … serial startup entrepreneurs, product designers, programmers, authors, speakers, marketers, knowledge workers of all types.
Anyone who’s ever felt excited by the spark of a new idea, only to be deflated by a “now what do I do next?” moment, needs this book.
About the Author
Scott Belsky, Founder of the Behance Creative Network, wrote this book. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Scott Belsky these past 3 years, first online and then eventually meeting in person. Scott and I were among the earliest contributors to the OPENForum.com site by American Express. I gobbled up Scott’s articles there about how to be successful in a creative business. Every once in a while I’d visit the Behance.net site and watch it grow into a place where creative professionals could place a portfolio of their work online. (If you want to see some outstanding creative work, check out Behance.net and prepare to be visually wowed.)
So it was gratifying to see Scott pull everything together into such a useful book: Making Ideas Happen. I recommend you check it out if you want to leave behind a legacy of more than just ideas.