Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making Ideas Happen

The latest book to move from the "read soon" pile to the bookshelf is Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. I picked this up because I saw it listed on Dan Kimballs blog as one of the "books by the bed" and it looked interesting.

The thesis of this book is this: Vision is useless if you don't ship. Belsky does a great job of showing the importance of organization coupled with the creative process. He introduced a formula that I really liked. It goes like this:

100 Creativity X 0 Organization = 0
50 Creativity X 2 Organization = 100

The most gifted and creative person in the world is going to be unsuccessful without organizational skills to enable them to ship product. On the other hand, it only takes a little organization coupled with some creative ability to make a big impact.

Belsky then talked about James Patterson and Thomas Kincade. Say what you want about their work, they are dang successful at both shipping product and profiting from it. This is followed by a section entitled "The Action Method: Work and Life with a Bias Toward Action." This is one of the most valuable things I've ever read. It caused me to completely rethink how I approach my workday, and reconfigure the way that I manage the myriad of tasks I have to accomplish at any given time.

If you read this blog regularly, you've probably noticed an increase in posts in the last couple of weeks. That started after I read this book, and my productivity has increased dramatically (and allowed me to budget time for things like updating this blog). It wasn't that I wasn't doing anything before, but I have really been able to focus in and accomplish a lot more in the same amount of time. The great irony for me is that the system I have settled on is entirely paper based. For someone who is as technology oriented as I am, that is a huge shock. But I've found that nothing works as well for me as the tactile experience of writing out tomorrow's to-do list at the end of each day. As part of this process I try to create a list that I know I can accomplish after looking at my calendar, rather than one giant list of everything I should ever do.

The rest of the book is good, particularly the section on the forces of community. I am reminded of how much better our search for a database went by the fact that I chose to blog it and open up the process to the world. But for me the second two thirds of the book was overshadowed by the first third.

This is an important and valuable book that will help you be more effective at your job, even if you are not in a creative industry. Highly recommended.


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