Book Summary: Making Ideas Happen

The notion of brainstorming has driven the whole creative world ahead for decades. Alex Osborn, known as the "Father of Brainstorming," demonstrated how to gather a group of people and magically generate a room full of ideas. Unfortunately, this is generally where the tale ends.

"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration," Thomas Edison famously remarked.

Get ready to sweat because this is a novel about 99 percent. Prepare to put your thoughts into action.

The founder of Behance & 99 Percent Conference, Scott Belsky, has spent years studying how creative teams could become more productive and efficient. He'll show you how to take a concept and make it into reality in this book.

Part 1 - Organization and Execution

The completion of the "small things" is crucial to every creative endeavor. Even businesses like Apple, which are known for their inventiveness and innovation, have mastered this. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad exist today solely due to a relentless predisposition toward action.

He created the "Action Method" after analyzing organizations that are capable of combining invention with action. Here's how you can put it to work in your company right now.

The awareness that everything is a project will be the first step on your 99 percent journey. Everything must be handled if everything is a project. That's a good start. When you initially start thinking about a project, this is the first thing that comes to mind.

When you're first thinking about everything a project entails, it might be daunting. Here's how to avoid becoming overwhelmed.


Documents being stored in a laptop based on its category of action step, reference or backburner.

Assess if something should be treated as an action step, a reference item, or something to put on the backburner. Action steps must be completed, reference items must be referred to complete the action steps, and backburner items are items that aren't now vital to the project but may become so in the future.

Assign each of these items to a specific project. It's likely that you recently began a new project if you can't locate a project to link the thing with.

Assign each action item to a different person so that it may be "owned." An action item will not be completed if no one claims ownership of it. Recall that an action item must begin with a verb.

"Groceries," for example, is not an action item, while "purchase cereal at the grocery store" is. This may appear to be a little detail, but it is crucial to remember.

Follow up regularly. Understand that if you assign an action item to a team member, you are still wholly accountable for seeing that it is completed. So make sure you write an action item to follow up with that person to ensure that the action item was completed.

Use the word "ensure" at the start of this action item, according to Belsky, so you can quickly search for all the follow-up items on your to-do list.

Create your own system. Make this process work for you by developing the system's mechanics yourself. For example, pick a technology that you are familiar with (whether digital or analog).

He has discovered that those who have made their system "their own" are significantly more likely to really utilize it than those who mindlessly follow someone else's method.

Finish each meeting with a review of the action items that were produced during the session. Make your way around the room, reading each person's thing aloud. If you have a meeting and no action items come out of it, you have simply wasted a lot of time.


A male business owner launching and executing his ideas into reality.

Now that you've gotten yourself organized, you can get down to business. Here are some pointers to assist you in getting stuff done.

Place your projects on a grid to establish how much of your team's energy each project should receive at any given time. We didn't say "amount of time," but rather "amount of energy." Put them into the extreme, high, medium, low, and idle categories.

Perform the tasks for the week that require the most attention. Try to distinguish between important and urgent tasks; some may appear critical, but they are not in the great scheme of things. These are the sorts of functions you avoid committing your full attention to.

Maintain a daily focus area where you bring around 5 action items into your day to focus on, based on your prioritizing.

Make a responsibility grid, so you know who is in charge of the frequent concerns that arise over the week. On the y-axis, write the names of your team members, and on the x-axis, write the difficulties that frequently arise. When you execute your initiatives weekly, this will guarantee that nothing is overlooked.

Make an honest evaluation of yourself and your team. The majority of people fit into one of three categories: dreamer, doer, or incrementalist.

  • The visionary who can't seem to stop jumping from one thought to the next is known as a dreamer.
  • The doer puts their head down and gets things done but cannot be trusted to create a business vision.
  • The incrementalists sit in the middle, able to shift from vision to execution as needed. On the other hand, those individuals have their own set of problems in the shape of developing and implementing too many ideas, stretching them far too thin.

A team with a blend of two or more of these positions is required.

If you do these things regularly, you'll be well on your way to realizing your dreams.

Part II - Community

A group of community connecting and receiving the product launched with great enthusiasm.

You'd think a book about bringing ideas to life would end there, but that's only half the struggle. Why? Because nothing is as simple as breaking things down into a few basic steps and then seeing them unfold as planned when it comes to human people.

Pushing our ideas out into the community is one of the most effective methods to overcome our aversion to realizing them.

You are most likely a member of several neighborhoods. You have many online networks you partake in, to the business community in your city, your family, or even your village. Enlist the assistance of each and every one of them.

The wonder is that events start changing as soon as you proclaim your concept to the world. Here are some of the steps you'll need to take to tap into the power of community:

Get a grip on yourself. Get over it if you're one of those folks who are uncomfortable with self-promotion. You must tell the world about your concept if you want it to prosper.

You'll really have to work out how to make your concept relevant to the individuals you want to reach. And then come up with a communication plan to achieve the desired result (which this summary does not explain).

Obtain feedback. In our heads, and possibly even with our internal team, most of our ideas seem fantastic. Getting your concept out there is the greatest way to discover outstanding aspects and require improvement. Allow others to tell you that you're insane.

Allow others to tell you that it will not work. Most crucially, this input will come from the people who will use your product in the end, which is almost always not you. The most essential thing for you to do now is figuring out what to do with the feedback.

Belsky advises using a simple formula to make sense of the comments: ask individuals what they believe you should start doing, what you should stop doing, and what you should keep doing.

No input will go to waste if you answer those three questions. Each of the inquiries leads to a certain action.

Take responsibility for your actions. People will begin to expect you to carry out your plan once you announce it to the world (imagine that!). People will call you out if you become lazy and fail to provide anything you promised. It's impossible to overstate the impact this will have on realizing your vision.

Form a group. It turns out that communal forces function best in groups. For decades, organizations like Vistage and YPO have brought together groups of CEOs from all over the world, generating a dynamic that these leaders would not have had otherwise.

Ensure your group is composed of 15 people (or fewer), that it follows a set of rules, meets regularly, and has a leader.

If you follow these steps, you'll be well on your way to using the power of communities to bring your ideas to life.

Part III - Leadership

As a business owner, we need to be the project lead, shown here as the leader helps its staff.

As Belsky explains, regardless of your job in the firm, it won't be finished if you don't lead your project. Here are a few methods to rethink your leadership style to get your ideas flying:

Reevaluate your incentive programs. We are all predisposed to want immediate gratification. When our everyday activities decide whether or not a long-term endeavor is a success, this creates significant disconnects. This isn't your fault, so don't be concerned.

Since the beginning of your education, you've been trained to think in this manner. You'll have to forego what most people consider "success" to rethink the incentive system. In the first quarter, or perhaps the first year, your initiative might not be a home run. Don't give up.

With progressive incentives, you'll be able to keep your attention. On the other hand, if you can't live without short-term gratification, manufacture some of your own.

Perhaps it's as simple as running a Google search every day to check how more people are talking about your concept. Whatever it is, make sure it won't detract from your long-term goals in the short term.

Concentrate on being happy. Many individuals will tell you that they are in business for the money. Still, most people are poor at forecasting what makes them happy in the first place. You must build a culture that makes your staff happy if you want them to stay with you for the long run.

Incorporate a sense of whimsy. I realize this is starting to sound a little wishy-washy. Still, there is growing evidence that factors like enjoyment and fun contribute to effective task completion. Keep in mind that you're in charge of a long-term project.

Allow for some flexibility. Give individuals some freedom in how they conduct their jobs unless your project needs them to be shackled to their desks or a boardroom table from 9-5 (or worse).

A ROWE has been adopted in some businesses (results-only work environment). Even if you aren't ready to totally relinquish control, keep in mind that your role is to manage outcomes, not how and when individuals perform their tasks.

Develop an anti-ideas immune system. This one may seem contradictory at first, but it's crucial to your success. You'll probably feel compelled to add fresh ideas to the mix or extend your original concept along the process. This is one of the most common project killers - there are too many ideas to implement. Try and kill them before they take you.

Take care of yourself. This one might be a book in and of itself. Being self-aware and understanding your limits and what to do about them will enable you to form a team that will persevere to the end.

So there you have it: everything you need to start putting your ideas into action.

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