“Ideas are worthless if you can’t make them happen. Generating new ideas is easy, it’s executing that is hard. Whether it’s an everyday problem or a bold new concept, you must transform vision into reality for an idea to have value.”
MAKING BUSINESS IDEAS HAPPEN = (THE IDEA) + ORGANIZATION AND EXECUTION + FORCES OF COMMUNITY + LEADERSHIP CAPABILITY
Part One: Organization and Execution
What I Learned:
1. This book was written not only for people who describe themselves as artists or creatives. One of my favorite quotes in the book is by John Maeda. “Every entrepreneur I have ever met is an artist. They are all forced to become comfortable with failure. And for entrepreneurs, their canvas is their company.” P. 7
2. There are two creative phases: ideation and execution. Yes, it is critical to generate lots of ideas but to be successful you must “ground this creative energy with a supreme sense of organization.” You must keep the focus on moving ideas forward to actionable steps. P. 13 + 32
3. Taking and organizing extensive notes is a waste of time as they are rarely used and generate clutter. Instead, “simply capture and then tend to the actions required for a project.” Start each Action Step with a verb and make sure it is owned by only one person. P. 33
4. For teams that manage Action Steps via email, actionable emails should have “Action” as the first word in the subject line. Reference emails should start the subject line with “FYI.” You can easily sort your email to focus on what is important and actionable. P. 54
5. Create an Energy Line that defines how much energy you should place on your projects. Start with “Extreme” then move to “High,” “Medium,” “Low” and lastly “Idle.” This will help you focus your precious and limited energy on projects with the most economic and strategic value. Watch so the constant flow of urgent does not interfere with your critical long-term objectives. Keep two lists: one for urgent and one for important. Make a daily “focus area.” P.59
6. “Traditional practices such as writing a business plan must be weighed against the benefits of just starting to take incremental action on your idea, even if such early actions feel reckless. Taking action helps expose whether we are on the right or wrong path more quickly and more definitively than pure contemplation ever could.” Early action will only help if you also resolve to quickly kill off the bad ideas that will surely surface. Value the skeptic’s role. P. 73 + p. 76
7. “Meetings should lead to ideas that are captured as Action Steps and then assigned to individuals together with deadlines.” Meet sparingly and call out any events that did not end with Action Steps. P. 78
8. “While our creative side intuitively seeks freedom and openness – blue-sky projects – our productivity desperately requires restrictions.” Whether they are restrictions of time, size, money or energy, defining and narrowing the realm of possibilities will help you focus on action and execution. P. 87
9. “When you have a project that is tracked with a beautiful chart or an elegant sketchbook, you are more likely to focus on it. Use your work space to induce attention where you need it most.” This will keep you engaged with the project. And don’t forget to not only surround yourself with visual reminders of your progress but to celebrate progress. P. 97
SAGE Serendipity: Appendix 1 of “Making Ideas Happen” describes how Scott’s firm uses the Action Method. You can visit http://www.creativesoutfitter.com/ to buy products that are based on this method. You can also visit http://99u.com/ for additional insights on making ideas happen.
Sheri Iannetta Cupo, CFP®, is Founding Principal of SAGE Advisory Group, based in Morristown, NJ, an independent, Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisory firm, specializing in providing busy professionals and their families with holistic financial life planning and investment management services. You can find more here: www.sageadvisorygroup.com where this post originally appeared. You can also connect with Sheri on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.