Make great ideas happen by method rather than happy accident

Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance and 99%, introduces his new book ‘Making Ideas Happen’. The book chronicles the methods of exceptionally productive creative people and teams.

My obsession, since before the founding days of Behance, has been to better understand the forces behind making ideas happen. In a perfect world, the best ideas would be the easiest execute. Or, at the very least, there would be some correlation between the quality of an idea and the probability that it becomes a reality. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Ideas don’t happen because they are great – or by accident. Ideas are made to happen through a series of other forces.

But what are these miraculous and mysterious “forces”? And why are certain people and teams able to consistently defy the odds and push their ideas to fruition, time and time again? I have spent over four years meeting these creative powerhouses and asking them how they do it.

The result of this quest – Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality (Penguin, Portfolio Imprint) – will land in bookstores next month, on April 15th. In about 250 pages, the book collects a series of pragmatic tips, tools, and anecdotes about the art (and science) of making ideas happen.

I share the insights and methods of uber-productive creative leaders and teams – companies like Google, IDEO, and Disney, and individuals like authors Seth Godin and Chris Anderson, RISD President John Maeda, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, among others.

Ideas don’t happen because they are great – or by accident.

It turns out that the mechanics of making ideas happen are not pretty. But the good news is that they are accessible to all of us.

I found that one’s methods for organization are just as important as the quality of one’s ideas. How you manage projects, how (and when) you conduct meetings, how you allocate your time on a daily basis – these seemingly “uncreative” activities matter. I’ll go further: they make a dramatic impact that is often the difference between success and… yet another idea that didn’t happen.

But organization isn’t everything. There are other common themes among prolific creative leaders, notably how they engage their community and how they lead others in creative pursuits. I found that the capacity to make ideas happen could be distilled into a simple framework:

Making Ideas Happen = (Ideas) + Organization & Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability

The methods and practices in each part of the above equation are absolutely essential when it comes to creative execution. Yet nearly all of these activities – perhaps because they come after the “idea” – are vastly undervalued. In fact, many of the forces that are crucial to making ideas happen may seem counter-intuitive at first blush.

Things like acting without conviction, skipping regular meetings, sharing ownership of your ideas, encouraging your team to fight, using appreciations instead of critical feedback, and drawing strength from others’ doubts.

Many of the forces that are crucial to making ideas happen may seem counter-intuitive at first blush.

These and many other surprising insights that emerged have changed the way I work and live my life. Needless to say, the process of writing the book was a 99% case study in itself. During the course of the project, I was able to put many of the insights I was observing into practice. I am also fortunate to have an incredible team – my colleagues at Behance – that provided invaluable support along the way.

I hope that this book will help more brilliant ideas see the light of day. Although it is the end product of many years of research, it is also the beginning of a richer conversation about execution in the creative world.

I am thrilled to invite you to pre-order the book, spread the word, and start showing your ideas some respect.

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