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Making Ideas Happen - Book Review

1 July 2011
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

The book "Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality" was authored by Scott Belsky in 2010. Belsky, who makes a living by coaching individuals and companies in transforming ideas into reality, addresses a challenge that resonates with everyone, be they artists, managers, or dreamers. Often, the ideas we conceive, despite investing time and resources, result in outcomes far from our envisioned success. Generating an idea seems to represent only a tiny portion of the journey.


To translate an idea into reality, one must possess organizational skills, tap into community forces, and demonstrate leadership—qualities distinct from those required for the creative development of the idea. Belsky delves into the specifics of each aspect, emphasizing the necessary steps. Upon reflection, some steps may appear simple or trivial, while others might be novel, yet most are likely familiar from various realms of activity. Nevertheless, their importance and contribution to success in materializing an idea should not be underestimated.


The book explores the following topics:
  • Organization

  • Community forces

  • Leadership


Therefore, if you've ever had an idea—whether for a startup, a novel client approach, or any other concept related to work or personal life—and found it challenging to bring to fruition, reading this book and attempting to implement its insights could be beneficial. Belsky doesn't promise an easy journey, but success is certainly possible.


I wish you an enlightening reading experience and the best of luck in your endeavors.


Organization

"Organization" encompasses various meanings, particularly in order and organized labor. Efficient and organized work, crucial in bringing an idea to fruition, consists of four key components:

  1. Action-oriented: Every thought should be geared towards action. Even during the brainstorming phase, there should be a goal to transition to action. Concluding meetings with actionable resolutions is essential. Treating everything needing advancement as a project is the initial step. Here are some suggestions for managing action-oriented projects:

    a. Assign individual responsibility for each task.

    b. Minimize investment in meeting summaries, considering their limited post-meeting utility.

    c. Invest in design elements for enhanced productivity, including color, shape, and aesthetics.

    d. Organize content and label it by project rather than its execution location.


Content is divided into three components:

  • Tasks to be promoted.

  • Accompanying information, such as various documents or references.

  • Future items – tasks that may arise later.


Collect tasks anytime, anywhere, not just during work meetings. Foster action-oriented awareness among all involved.


2. Prioritization: Prioritization ensures the allocation of energy and resources to urgent and long-term projects. Tips for effective prioritization:

a. Manage separate lists for thinking and pushing projects forward.

b. Limit the important list to no more than five projects.

c. Avoid excessive worry about urgent matters.

3. Constant execution: The temptation to abandon a current project for a new idea is ever-present. Tips for the execution phase:

a. Act promptly, even in the face of limited certainty.

b. Eliminate additional ideas or requests for changes that may hinder project launch.

c. Ensure every meeting concludes with actionable resolutions.

d. End meetings promptly when decisions can be reached, avoiding unnecessary extension.

e. Leverage time and budget constraints as tools for project completion.

f. Embrace perseverance, even in challenging and seemingly distant phases.


Celebrating successes bolsters perseverance, so allocate time for that as well.


4. Attention and Constant Attention: Sustaining attention and allocating thinking time resources involve creating and maintaining desire. Recommendations:

a. Establish a routine and schedule for work hours.

b. Plan the work environment, designating specific spaces for focused tasks and brainstorming.


As mentioned in the introduction, these concepts may seem familiar, yet they differ significantly from the qualities required for creativity. Hence, it's easy to overlook them on the journey of turning an idea into reality.


Community forces

Not surprisingly, but sometimes overlooked, is that developing an idea for a product is impossible without considering the external environment. The environment fosters the development project and provides valuable feedback, ultimately serving as the product's consumer. Here are various facets of a supportive environment, essentially a community, that can aid in bringing an idea to fruition:

  1. Partnership: The world can be categorized into dreamers, doers, and those who embody both traits. Successfully turning an idea into reality requires more than being a dreamer or a doer. Straddling the border between the two can also be challenging. To succeed, having a partner is crucial, preferably with a character different from the idea's originator. Collaborating with a partner is recommended not only for execution but also for brainstorming ideas and courses of action. Sharing has the potential to be synergistic rather than merely complementary.

  2. Open Workspace: An open work environment, whether physical or organizational (cross-hierarchical), promotes sharing and can spur activity or enhance existing activities. Embrace the advantages it offers!

  3. Search for Competition: While competition may seem like a hurdle, it is a catalyst that induces fear or excitement, thereby enhancing performance and revitalizing forgotten or neglected ideas. Competition serves as a source of motivation.

  4. Feedback Community: Staying connected with a supportive environment involves seeking and listening to feedback. This can occur within close circles of familiar individuals or in more distant circles through platforms like Twitter and social networks. Openness, transparency, and authenticity are appreciated, and positive responses are garnered by soliciting feedback on deliverables and project courses of action. Continuous feedback from colleagues can propel the project forward and bring it to completion.

  5. Community Acquisition/Reception: Ultimately, the community is the newly developed product or service consumer. Knowing how to communicate with the community, mastering self-marketing, and leveraging new social technologies can facilitate the process. Listening and absorbing external needs are equally crucial.


Leadership

This may not be surprising, but turning ideas into reality requires leadership. The necessary leadership extends to the team responsible for bringing our envisioned idea to life and ourselves. Here's a breakdown of leadership in these two contexts:


Leadership with the Team:

  1. Remuneration: Belsky challenges the conventional reward system and emphasizes that rewards play a motivating role. Employ small, subtle rewards to stimulate progress. Recommended rewards include:

    a. Incorporating joy as a working concept, infusing play and fun into work.

    b. Providing recognition and acknowledgment.

  2. Leading a Creatively Collaborative Team: Leadership within a team involves several stages:

    a. Recruiting entrepreneurial individuals and those with complementary abilities.

    b. Implementing ongoing work strategies:

    c. Providing employee flexibility as a productivity tool is a quality inherent in influential leaders.

    d. Encouraging idea generation at appropriate stages and establishing a system for eliminating ideas as the project advances.

    e. Fostering an environment where individuals express opinions. While consensus is convenient, it's not always recommended. Involve staff in ideas and thinking, allowing them to express themselves first, avoiding hierarchical constraints on expression.

    f. Utilizing conflicts and difficulties as tools for learning, forging trust, and building confidence.

    g. Encouraging cross-hierarchical sharing and recognition based on knowledge, empowering through appreciation.


Self-Leadership:

Arguably the most challenging part of the book, encompassing and summarizing its core principles:

  1. Self-awareness of Weaknesses: Acknowledge and understand personal weaknesses.

  2. Developing Tolerance and Coping Skills: Cultivate tolerance and the ability to cope with complexity, recognizing that it both challenges and enables dealing with difficulties.

  3. Learning from Failures: Embrace lessons learned and cultivate a mindset of learning from failures, fostering resilience and doubt development.

  4. Time Management: Recognize that time is ticking away, and engaging in a war against time contributes to achieving results.

  5. Avoidance of Narcissism: Guard against narcissism. Remain objective, avoid undue self-admiration, and assess actions and behavior from a broader perspective.

  6. Willingness to be Unpopular: Be prepared, at times, to be unpopular. Development and realization of breakthrough ideas often involve going against the current norms and expectations.


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