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Those who know me are aware that, on the whole, I prefer the arrive late/ leave late approach to work. I skip the worst of the commuting, get more done befoe I leave home, and generally feel better about life. In my world, the early bird might catch the worm, but it gets grumpy and doesn’t eat it because he feels a little sick.

But some things are worth getting up early for. I’m a big fan of the Like Minds events, and the idea of a business book club from them could just be tailor-made for me. And so, I dragged myself out of bed early enough to join them at The Hospital Club this morning to hear Scott Belsky talk about his book Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality.

After a rather scrummy bacon buttie and some pain au chocolat (which are pretty much worth getting out bed for, frankly), we settled down to hear him explain how the hell to get creative people to actually buckle down and deliver.

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Most ideas never happen, suggested Belsky. He wishes for an idea meritocracy, where only the best survive… Don’t we all? And he, like the rest of us has become convinced that ideas don’t happen because they’re great. That takes away the romantic notion that a great idea will come to fruition.. Most ideas never happen because of the double-edged sword of creativity. When an idea strikes, energy and excitement is high. But it subsides as you get into execution, eroded by the drudgery of project management. How do you escape the drudgery and return to the excitement? To many of us just come up with a new idea and get excited by that instead, so things never get completed.

One shouldn’t understimate the gravitational force of operations, suggested Belsky. The demands of the grind take over, and the ideas never get executed. A strategic offsite gets overwhelmed by daily life. Creative people tend to be disorganised. So, getting ideas in all about defying the odds. Some teams are able to do that again and agaimn – how?

Organise/Prioritise

You have to overcome reactionary workflow, the endless stream of communication that can blight our lives. We’re in the era of reactionary workflow, pecking away at the inboxes of our lives and trying to stay afloat. Belsky gives the example of a friend who commuted by car, and found himself a deep thinking/sacred space while driving. Then he got a new car with iPhone linkage. Goodbye non-stimulation time. Creating windows of non-stimulation where you ignore social media and e-mail inputs and focus down on the things you want to achieve can be incredibly helpful.

And you should spend time on organisation. The equation:

Creativity x Organisation = Impact

It doesn’t matter how much creativity you have, if you don’t invest time in organisation, you will have zero impact. For the last three years Apple, a company reknowned for creativity, has won an award for the best supply chain management. Many have speculated that COO Tim Cook is as important to the company as CEO Steve Jobs.

Other ideas:

  • Organise with a bias to action
  • Go into creativity workshops and focus on the action steps
  • If meetings lead to nothing actionable – replace them with an e-mail? A stand-up?
  • Culture of capturing action steps.
  • Surround yourself with evidence of progress

Communal forces

Three base types of people:

  1. Dreamer – something new all the time. Goes to bed happy when there are new things in the pepline
  2. Doer – says “no”, extinguishes ideas. Goes to bed happy with nothing new in the pipeline
  3. Incrementalist – rotates between the two. They create too much and never scale them.

Value the team’s immune system. Doers can extinguish distractions. Dreamers bring new things. Empower different people at different times based on which of these three groups they fall into.

Share your ideas liberally and allow others to comment on them. Those which garner the most reaction are probably the ones you should focus on.  Chris Anderson just pushes all his ideas on his blog (both internal and external.) Is there a risk of premature sharing, and your ideas being nicked? The benefits outweigh the costs.

Fights force people to explore each other’s opinion. However don’t let these fights push people into apathy. When you stop exploring opinions, you stop performing.

Other ideas:

  • Don’t be burdened by consensus.
  • Overcome the stigma of self-marketing
  • Curate because it attracts attention, and then people will listen when you have something new to say.

Bookmark

And he finshed on a note that I found particularly compelling: gain confidence from doubt.

“If 99% of people think you’re crazy, you’re either crazy or onto something. We shun people before we celebrate them. Status quo is the grease on the wheels of society.”

But sometimes, status quo is another word for terminal decline…

It was a good talk, and I’m now throughly lookiong forward to diving into the book. Scott Gould has already reviewed it, and comments from the other book clubbers should start flowing over the week. Ve Interactive blogged the event, too.

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