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СодержаниеAn opportunity and a responsibility
Ideas don’t happen
A quick primer
You have ideas that you want to make happen.
You can develop the capacity to make ideas happen.
Organization enables you to manage and ultimately execute your ideas.
The forces of community are invaluable and readily available.
Fruitful innovation requires a unique capacity to lead.
Making This Book Happen
Why Most Ideas Never Happen
The Life and Death of Ideas
The Creative’s Conundrum: At Odds with Our Very Essence
The Forces That Make Ideas Happen
Making ideas happen =
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Leadership in creative pursuits.
A Final Note As We Begin
Organization and execution
In a world
The competitive advantage of organization
|Table of Contents|
Part 1 - ORGANIZATION AND EXECUTION
THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF ORGANIZATION
THE ACTION METHOD: - Work and Life with a Bias Toward Action
PRIORITIZATION: - Managing Your Energy Across Life’s Projects
EXECUTION: - Always Moving the Ball Forward
MENTAL LOYALTY: - Maintaining Attention and Resolve
Part 2 - THE FORCES OF COMMUNITY
HARNESSING THE FORCES AROUND YOU
PUSHING IDEAS OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY
Part 3 - LEADERSHIP CAPABILITY
THE REWARDS OVERHAUL
THE CHEMISTRY OF THE CREATIVE TEAM
MANAGING THE CREATIVE TEAM
Appendix 1: - Tips for Practicing the Action Method
Appendix 2: - The Purple Santa Experiment
Appendix 3: - Overview of the Behance Network
About the Author
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in 2010 by Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Behance, LLC, 2010
All rights reserved
Photographs on page 95 used by permission of Colin Williams.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Belsky, Scott.
Making ideas happen : overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality / Scott Belsky.p. cm.
1. Creative ability in business. 2. Success in business. 3. Leadership. I. Title.
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To Nancy and Mark, with gratitude for the precious opportunity of endless possibility
Making Ideas Happen
^ because they are great—or by accident. The misconception that great ideas inevitably lead to success has prevailed for too long. Whether you have the perfect solution for an everyday problem or a bold new concept for a creative masterpiece, you must transform vision into reality. Far from being some stroke of creative genius, this capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone. You just need to modify your organizational habits, engage a broader community, and develop your leadership capability.
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.” For the creative mind, inspiration comes easily. But what makes up the other 99 percent of making ideas happen? Read on for a surprisingly pragmatic set of insights and tips that have emerged from over six years spent studying the behaviors and skill sets of those who make their ideas happen again and again.
Making Your Ideas Happen
In the sections ahead, we will discuss the methods behind spectacular achievements —ideas that have overcome the odds and become realities. But before we do, here’s a primer on a few terms I use throughout the book and some assumptions I make about you (and your ideas)!
^ Whatever your business or industry, success is dependent on developing and executing new ideas. We’re not just talking about new products, new business ideas, or your vision for the next great American novel. You likely come up with creative solutions to problems every day.
Unfortunately, regardless of how great your ideas may be, most of them will never happen. Most ideas get lost in what I call the “project plateau,” a period of intense execution where your natural creative tendencies turn against you. As a leader in your industry (and the leader of your life), you must learn to defy these tendencies.
^ From years of researching creative individuals and teams, I will share the practices used to make ideas happen, time and time again.
Making ideas happen = Ideas + Organization + Communal forces + Leadership capability.
There is a framework for all of the insights and methods we will discuss. Aside from generating ideas (which we will not discuss), the capacity to make ideas happen is a combination of the forces of organization, community, and leadership. We will dive into each of these forces and discuss how you should use them in your own creative pursuits.
^ In the modern world of information overload and constant connectivity, you must manage your energy wisely. Otherwise, you will fall into a state of “reactionary work flow,” where you act impulsively (rather than proactively) and simply try to stay afloat.
Everything in life should be approached as a project. Every project can be broken down into just three things: Action Steps, Backburner Items, and References. The “Action Method,” which we will discuss in the first section of the book, is a composite of the best practices for productivity shared by creative leaders. The Action Method helps those of us with creative tendencies live and work with a bias toward action.
With an understanding of this methodology, we will delve deeply into prioritization, managing your energy and attention, and fully executing your ideas.
^ Ideas don’t happen in isolation. You must embrace opportunities to broadcast and then refine your ideas through the energy of those around you. In the second section of this book, we will break down the communal forces that cause ideas to gain traction.
^ Leading any sort of creative pursuit requires an overhaul of how we motivate others and ourselves. The most admired leaders are able to build and manage teams that can overcome the obstacles faced in creative projects. There is also a mind-set we must achieve to withstand (and capitalize on) the doubts and pressures we face along the way.
While the tendency to generate ideas is rather natural, the path to making them happen is tumultuous. This book is intended to outfit you with the methods and insights that build your capacity to defy the odds and make your ideas happen.
I have always been a bit frustrated with creativity. I would get impatient watching colleagues and friends come up with great ideas, only to become distracted by other ideas and the general demands of life. I found the poor odds that anyone would actually follow through with an idea very upsetting. After a series of jobs and a graduate degree, my frustration turned into fascination and subsequently a career aspiration.
Believe it or not, it all started at Goldman Sachs, the investment bank. After an exceedingly dry finance job working with European equities, I was invited to join a group in the firm’s executive office known as Pine Street—a small team of professionals dedicated to leadership development and organizational improvement. My focus was on developing the potential of innovative leaders both within the firm and at large clients, including hedge funds and other high-growth companies. This position provided me with a precious opportunity to study (and spread) the best practices of those leaders who were the most effective at executing their ideas.
While identifying and spreading these best practices, I spent a lot of time observing business leaders dealing with the daily struggles of managing people amidst rapid changes in their businesses. At the same time, outside Goldman Sachs, I began to work informally with a variety of creative people in New York City—photographers, entrepreneurs, designers, and so on—to help them master the challenge of following through on their ideas. Their needs, it seemed, were endless.
During my years in Pine Street, I realized that the creative world desperately needed cutting-edge information on productivity and leadership development. Creative professionals—defined as those who generate (and sometimes execute) ideas for a living—constitute what is likely the most disorganized community on the planet. But these same individuals are ultimately responsible for the design, entertainment, literature, and new businesses that bring meaning to our lives. I saw not only an opportunity but also a responsibility to help those with ideas overcome the obstacles to make them happen. As such, I committed my professional life to organizing the creative world.
My experiences inside and outside Goldman Sachs led me to pursue my MBA at Harvard and to simultaneously found Behance, a company dedicated to organizing and empowering the creative world. While at Harvard I was able to explore productivity in the creative industries, particularly during an independent research project with Teresa Amabile, the famed expert on creativity in business and a professor at Harvard Business School. Meanwhile, I assembled a small team of like-minded thinkers in New York City who shared my enthusiasm, curiosity, and desire to organize the creative world.
Launched in 2007, the Behance Network is an online collective of many thousands of leading creative professionals from around the world. At all hours of the day and night, network members post their latest projects—ranging from designs for major brands, to architectural plans for buildings, to new fashion lines and photographic series—for their peers to review and for potential clients to consider. Millions of visitors explore these projects every month. Each project is a testament to an idea that has been pushed forward.
The Network provides organization, feedback exchange, efficient communication, and promotion to support the careers of creative professionals and boost efficiency in the talent recruitment process. As we tweak the various components of the Network, our guiding mission is to help creative people and teams organize their work, collaborate, and lead others. From the Network’s data—and many focus groups—we have gathered insights into how people with ideas gain traction and stay accountable.
Over the years, Behance has continued to research and develop methods and tools for creative leaders. We transformed the tips and insights of the Action Method into a suite of paper products and a powerful online application. In 2009, we launched The 99% Conference and online think tank as an exchange for tips and insights about the execution of ideas.
My team’s passionate pursuit is to understand why and how some people and organizations are consistently able to push ideas to fruition, while most others do so haphazardly or not at all. We have interviewed hundreds of the individuals and teams that make life interesting—leading designers, emerging technology teams, media executives, writers, serial entrepreneurs, filmmakers, and everything in between. We never ask typical questions such as “What inspires you?” or “Where do your ideas come from?” On the contrary, we focus less on the creativity and more on how these people stay productive and consistently execute their ideas.
Along the way we have met with teams at revered companies across industries, including Apple, IDEO, Disney, Google, Zappos, and Miramax, as well as with brilliant individuals such as Stefan Sagmeister, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson, who have, through their consistent execution of ideas, become admired thought leaders in the creative world. We learned that these teams and individuals did not arrive at success through a mysterious spark of creative genius. Rather, the people who consistently make ideas happen utilize many of the same best practices.
Specifically, we discovered that the most productive creative individuals and teams have a lot in common when it comes to (1) organization and relentless execution, (2) engaging peers and leveraging communal forces, and (3) strategies for leading creative pursuits. While many of us spend too much energy searching for the next great idea, my research shows that we would be better served by developing the capacity to make ideas happen—a capacity that endures over time.
My hope is that the insights in this book will provide you with a road map for building that capacity—and ultimately help more great ideas gain traction. The era upon us is filled with problems and opportunities that require fresh innovation like never before.
Being more efficient or cheaper is no longer enough to be competitive in a global marketplace. We need to conceive new ideas to address the problems and opportunities that surround us—and we need to defy the odds and make these ideas actually happen.
This book was written with the creative person or team in mind—people driven by deep interests and gifted with multiple ideas on how to pursue them. But this book was not written merely for the stereotypical “artist.” John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, put it best: “I’m not for the notion of ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ meaning making a pretty picture. 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.”
It is a shame that countless ideas with the potential to transform our lives—concepts for new drug discoveries, models for new businesses, inklings for musical masterpieces, sketches for iconic pieces of art—are conceived and squandered in the hands of creative geniuses every day. The ideas that move industries forward are not the result of tremendous creative insight but rather of masterful stewardship. Yes, there is a method to the madness of turning an idea into a reality—it’s just not as romantic as you thought.
Creativity is the catalyst for brilliant accomplishments, but it is also the greatest obstacle. If you examine the natural course of a new idea—from conception to execution — you’ll see that nearly all new ideas die a premature death. If that seems far-fetched, just consider the ideas that you have conceived on your own but never implemented: a novel you wanted to write, a business project you wanted to launch, a restaurant you wanted to open. For most of us the list goes on and on. New ideas face an uphill battle from the moment they are conceived.
The cynics might suggest that the death of most ideas is actually a good thing. After all, from a day-to-day perspective, society appears to thrive on conformity. The status quo is the oil in the gears of society; it keeps us all happy and healthy. Even the companies that preach innovation still need to satisfy existing customers, meet their earnings targets, and keep the lights on. To a degree, the natural immune system that extinguishes new ideas in big companies is essential. After all, fresh ideas have the potential to take us off course; they are seldom economical (at first) and introduce tremendous risk to a finely tuned system. So it is with good reason that every new idea faces a battery of external obstacles before it even has a chance of materializing. Sadly, these obstacles don’t discriminate between good and bad ideas.
Even more powerful than the obstacles around us, however, are the obstacles within us. The most potent forces that kill off new ideas are our own limitations. Time is very limited, and with the demands of family, friends, work, and sleep, most ideas lose traction immediately. If your idea survives the honeymoon period of excitement, it may still be forgotten because you are probably the only one who knows about it. Most ideas are born and lost in isolation.
Even if you do possess the single-minded focus necessary to pursue a particular idea, your journey forward will be full of battles. Whether you work alone or with a team, you will become mired in the challenge of staying productive, accountable, and in control. These journeys are physically and psychologically exhausting, and the road is littered with the carcasses of half-baked ideas that were abandoned or surrendered along the way. It is a tragic truth that most new ideas, despite their quality and importance, will never see the light of day.
Fortunately, there’s another side to this story. Across every industry and in every creative pursuit, there are some people who are consistently good at both generating and executing their ideas. This book captures how they do it.
The prospect of making ideas happen carries with it a special conundrum. The forces that help us be productive and execute our ideas are often at odds with the very source of our ideas: our creativity.
To get a sense of what it’s like to live governed by our creative side, look no further than Chad and Risa—two people I met early on who suffered from many of the common ailments that plague creative people.
A well-known production head at a top film studio was in despair as he told me about Chad, one of the most gifted screenwriters he had ever met. Chad spent his days and nights writing. He’d had a few decent films, but he had written many more misses than hits and cycled through more than a few agents. Chad checked his e-mail “every week or so.” Production executives and Chad’s close friends said the same thing: Chad is tough to get in touch with and is extremely disorganized. He is unable to stay on top of his ideas, some of which have the potential to fit into various projects.
“Plot twists come and leave my mind every day,” Chad lamented to me. As I talked to him about his struggle to stay organized, Chad grew defensive. He reminded me that he was a writer, he loved his job, and that writing was what he does best.
“Writing is chaos, and writing is my essence,” Chad proclaimed. But then Chad admitted wondering what benefits he might realize if he got his “stuff in order.”
A new approach to organization made all the difference. Chad needed a system that would capture all of his fledgling ideas but also channel his energy toward the projects that required action. A self-proclaimed “technophobe,” Chad created a paper-based system that displayed the Action Steps for his most important projects in plain sight. He stopped living his life at the mercy of Post-it notes and trying to keep up with e-mail.
Instead, he adopted a set of principles and even a few rituals that made him focus on the actionable aspects of his most important projects without abandoning his creative process. After a full introduction to the Action Method, you too will start to reconsider your own approach to organization in personal and professional projects.
And now, a quick glimpse into Risa’s life. As a student of human behavior, philosophy enthusiast, and relentless thinker, Risa spent years working on a new theory about the social development of parentless children. While her ideas filled hundreds of pages of notes, she had yet to pull the project together when I first met her. She would only share her ideas with a few people and seldom review her own writing, always preferring to tackle something new. She didn’t care much for feedback, but she would talk for hours about the need for her work and the broad applicability of her findings. Without a doubt, Risa was an extremely passionate and talented woman.
Along the way, Risa had hopped from job to job. Her voice was reduced to shaky disappointment as she tried to make sense of the half-baked projects that had accumulated over the years. “Nothing has happened yet for me,” she admitted. Amidst a surplus of possible excuses, Risa was unable to explain exactly what was stalling her progress. She was failing to make any of her ideas happen.
Risa was a brilliant mind left to her own devices. Without others to challenge her ideas and hold her accountable, she was struggling. The turning point for Risa involved setting up a blog, engaging a dear friend who became a mentor, and joining a local philosophy forum where she could exchange her ideas with others on a weekly basis. Her scattered ideas became a more focused set of projects. Eventually, Risa’s years of research resulted in a published book that received much fanfare. For Risa, the forces of community made all the difference.
Chad’s and Risa’s stories showcase some of the common struggles of the creative mind. Making ideas happen often comes down to a battle against our own essence.
Having a brilliant creative mind won’t cut it.
In this book, I will focus on creative leaders and teams across industries that, time and time again, make their ideas happen. One such leader is Jonathan Harris. A unique hybrid of artist, intellectual, and technologist, Harris is best described as a storyteller and Internet anthropologist. He may have graduated from Princeton, but there is nothing traditional about his career. Jonathan’s passion, as he describes it, is to pursue ideas that “begin with really basic questions about the world” and explore “the role of stories as time capsules.”
Such a broad passion might be dismissed as typical go-nowhere creative ambition.
But Jonathan has been exceptionally productive in his creative endeavors. Before the age of twenty-eight, he launched multiple award-winning Web productions that pushed the envelope of human interaction with technology. His projects—“We Feel Fine,” a global online experiment in human emotion that allows you to observe thousands of people expressing a common feeling at once; “Phylotaxis,” an exploration of the intersection of science and culture; and the critically acclaimed “Whale Hunt,” a photo documentary that employed a head-mounted camera that automatically captured photographs every few minutes during an Alaska whale-hunting trip—were all ideas that actually happened.
Jonathan’s work has been featured on CNN and the BBC, and in Wired, and exhibited at Le Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In short, Jonathan is not hampered by his ceaseless flow of ideas. At a glance, his ideas might seem too lofty or avant-garde to gain traction. But they consistently defy the odds.
Jonathan gives his ideas every chance to succeed by pushing them to fruition.
“I think there are two phases,” Jonathan explained to me, “the first being the one where you are just picking up signals from the ether. [Ideas] aggregate over time and then pop out one day when you are in the shower. I think the second phase is deciding ‘Okay, I’m going to actually pursue this given thing.’ And then once you’ve decided, it’s a different mind-set from that point forward. At least with that particular idea, because you have to become more rational and more logical, more disciplined. It’s less about receiving and it’s more about synthesizing and distilling and then ultimately producing. And I think it’s something that a lot of creative people struggle with because maybe the former is a more pleasing way to live your life, but the latter is the only way that you actually get anything done.”
Jonathan believes that any successful creative entity must be comfortable alternating between these two creative phases: ideation and execution. When Jonathan starts talking about his approach to projects and work flow, you immediately sense the value he places on self-discipline and simplicity. You also realize that Jonathan begins a project with serious expectations for its viability with an audience. While his work is personally fulfilling, its true purpose is to reach other people.
Many claim they create solely for themselves; they argue that the conception and actualization of an idea is simply a means for self-fulfillment and nothing more. But this argument is selfish: an idea executed for an audience of one is an awful waste of potential inspiration and value for the greater good.
“I think that if you want to treat your work like a virus that will reach a lot of people,” Jonathan explained, “it’s good to package it in a way that can optimize the number of people it can reach, and that can mean different things. You can make something really, really palatable and turn it into an HBO miniseries or you can make something moderately palatable and turn it into something that goes into an art museum or you can make something not at all palatable and turn it into something you do in your basement.”
Jonathan is just another member of the powerful cadre of creative professionals who have been able to overcome the challenges posed by the creative psyche. The attributes that Jonathan embodies are common among people who routinely push ideas to fruition.
The most exceptional creative leaders and teams who I have met are able to generate a surplus of ideas with discipline and poise. They ground their creative energy with a supreme sense of organization. As professionals, they have overcome the stigma of self-marketing and use their respective communities to stay accountable. And as leaders, they are able to build and lead teams that thrive over time.
The quality of ideas themselves is less important than the platform upon which they materialize. Realize that you control the platform for your ideas.
This book is divided into three sections, each presenting a critical set of tools for making ideas happen: Organization and Execution, the Forces of Community, and Leadership Capability. Of course, there is also the idea itself—the catalyst. But, for the purposes of this book, I will leave the creative inspiration and ideas up to you.
^ (THE IDEA) + ORGANIZATION AND EXECUTION + FORCES OF COMMUNITY + LEADERSHIP CAPABILITY
The capacity to make ideas happen is defined by the confluence of the three core components outlined in the equation shown here. Reaching your greatest potential requires mastering the intricate balance of all three forces at play—whether you are executing an idea on your own or working with a team.
Let’s quickly discuss the relevance of the three components:
Organization and execution. It is undeniable that your approach to productivity largely determines your creative output. The way you organize projects, prioritize, and manage your energy is arguably more important than the quality of the ideas you wish to pursue. There is nothing new in this assertion. The necessity of staying organized has been well-documented in innumerable books. Our thirst for a simple solution is evident in the huge success of methodology-oriented books and productivity blogs.
Few, however, have explored organization and execution within the context of the creative mind, or within the context of our rapidly changing work environment. Creatives have always represented one of the most mobile groups in the workforce, and this trend of mobility is now extending to the business world at large.
The ranks of freelance, contract, and part-time workers as well as small-business owners are increasing daily. Many businesses are hiring people for rotational programs that last only two years. Practices such as “daylighting”—in which an employee works on a creative, personal project for 10-20 percent of their at-work time—are increasing in popularity as companies like Google tout their effectiveness. Even the more traditional “lifer” companies, such as General Electric and IBM, are acknowledging the value of a shorter experiential education over a lifelong career opportunity.
What this means is that, regardless of your industry, your professional life is becoming more nomadic, digital, and flexible. But as a wise sage once said—and what every small-business owner knows all too well—“total freedom means total responsibility.” As where and how you work become more flexible, the onus of organization shifts increasingly onto the individual. As such, productivity is not about how efficient you are at work. Instead, your productivity is really about how well you are able to make an impact in what matters most to you.
You might wonder, “How can I stay organized amidst the everyday chaos of accomplishing tasks, managing projects, and staying mentally clear enough to still be creative?” There are surprisingly practical methods and tricks that can, collectively, become your controls for making ideas happen. As we discuss examples and common themes of the especially productive, you will come to see that it is at the intersection of creative energy and organizational prowess where great ideas become actions and ultimately revolutionary achievements.
Leveraging communal forces. I have found that, across the board, extremely productive and accomplished people and teams capitalize on the power of community to push their ideas forward. The utilization of communal forces yields invaluable feedback and idea refinement, builds and nourishes beneficial relationships, and establishes a connective tissue that provides resources, support, and inspiration.
As psychologist Keith Sawyer, a protégé of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of the renowned creativity book ^ ), writes in his 2007 book Group Genius, “All great inventions emerge from a long sequence of small sparks; the first idea often isn’t all that good, but thanks to collaboration it later sparks another idea, or it’s reinterpreted in an unexpected way. Collaboration brings small sparks together to generate breakthrough innovation.”
Even if the notion of the lone creative genius existed in the past (and Sawyer would argue that it did not), there can be no doubt that it’s wildly outdated in the twenty-first century. The hyperconnectivity made possible by the Internet has acted as a massive accelerator for the “small sparks” that fuel the refinement of ideas. Nearly every individual or company I’ve spoken with has harnessed the power of the Web to achieve many of the goals we’ll discuss in this section: gathering feedback, honing ideas, increasing transparency, and sharing and promoting completed work.
We’ll look at, among other examples, how Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh uses Twitter to increase transparency and find inspiration, how best-selling author and Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson uses a community of engaged readers to refine his groundbreaking theorems, and how marketing strategist Noah Brier gathers feedback to improve his Web experiments.
Of course, the Internet is just one means of accessing and building your community.
The concepts and insights that I’ll be discussing are not tied to any single medium—and they can be applied in a number of ways depending on your personality and what works best for you.
But whatever your disposition, I cannot stress enough the importance of tapping into the communal forces around you: community opens the door to new approaches for old challenges and spurs a more informed and powerful creative instinct. Accountability, one of the most crucial benefits of engaging with your community, is what binds you to the relentless pursuit of your ideas. As you become accountable to others, your creative impulses become tangible projects. Your ideas grow roots. Community strengthens both your creative energy and your commitment to channel it.
^ History is made by passionate, creative people and organizations with the rare ability to lead others—and themselves. Leadership capability is what makes the pursuit of an idea sustainable, scalable, and ultimately successful. Unfortunately, there is a huge void of leadership capability in the creative world, as evidenced by the high attrition and frequent management debacles across the creative industries. When employees quit a creative team, it is most often a result of an interpersonal conflict or not feeling engaged by the subject matter; it is rarely about money.1
To grow and sustain creative pursuits, you must be able to keep others engaged with your ideas.
Leadership capability relates both to your leadership of others as well as to your ability to lead yourself. Perhaps some of the greatest hurdles in implementing ideas are personal deficiencies—common psychological barriers that creative minds often face when executing ideas. Very few of the famously prolific and productive creative people we discuss in this book are “naturals.” While the ideas might flow generously, the methods behind the capacity to make ideas happen are often counterintuitive. In some ways, the self-discipline and restraints necessary to execute an idea can feel like a tremendous compromise of your very essence as a creative person.
I have come to call this notion the “creative’s compromise” because you must be prepared to adopt new restraints and best practices that—at first—feel uncomfortable.
You will never need to compromise your morals or artistic integrity, but you will need to exert control over your destructive tendencies. Perhaps you have the tendency to jump from idea to idea to idea without ever following through on any particular one. Or maybe you have the tendency to incubate ideas privately. You might be avoiding feedback for fear of criticism, and when you do receive it, you may subconsciously find ways to discount it. Everyone with the gift of creativity has a series of tendencies that can become obstacles. The journey to a more productive life as a creative leader starts with a candid self-assessment of who you are, your tendencies, and the greatest barriers before you.
You need to think differently about how you manage your ideas, your community of collaborators, and yourself. As we discuss leadership in the context of creative pursuits, we will reconsider the rewards systems that govern our own actions and discuss how to manage the delicate chemistry of a creative team.
Of course, even if you were to adopt all of the best practices in this book, making ideas happen will never be easy. Across the hundreds of interviews conducted during the research for this book, no individual or team I met was without frustration. Anything new inherently works against the grain. And working against the grain is uncomfortable.
The aspiration you should have is to improve your approach. And the responsibility you should feel is to give your ideas a chance.
This book is highly practical, filled with methods that have worked for others. Every tip and insight is kept short and actionable, so you can put this book to use right away and return to it as a resource when you face different challenges throughout your career. You will find some sections more mechanical than others. Keep in mind that execution isn’t pretty. However, your effort to develop the capacity to make ideas happen is a worthy investment. The best practices presented here are yours to digest, scrutinize, and modify as you see fit. My hope is that you take away a few crucial realizations that make all the difference.
The conversation also continues online, where a network of thousands of creative people and teams, like you, are eager to push their ideas forward. As our research evolves online at our think tank (the99percent.com) and at the Behance Network (behance.net), I hope you’ll both learn from the material and become a contributor.
Let’s get started!
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