Echo 11 :: Scott Belsky – Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky has committed his professional life to help organize creative individuals, teams, and networks. He is the author of the national bestselling book MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN and is the founder and CEO of Behance, a company that develops products and services for the creative industries. Behance’s products include the Behance Network, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals; The 99%, Behance’s think tank for execution in creative teams, and Action Method, a popular online/mobile productivity application and line of organizational paper products. He is a frequent contributor on MSNBC and has worked with leading companies and organizations including General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and Proctor & Gamble as well as the United States State Department and the CIA. Scott serves on the boards of Cornell University’s Entrepreneurship program and the Art Director’s Club. In 2010, Scott was also included in Fast Company’s list of “100 Most Creative People in Business.” He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

  • I’m here to talk about making ideas happen
  • With great passion comes creativity, and creativity is a double edged sword. It gives us great ideas, but also gives us too many ideas, which prevents the one idea from never happening.
  • Most ideas never happen. Some ideas should never happen.
  • When a new idea strikes, energy and excitement is really high. When you stay up till 3 AM writing a plan. Then a couple days pass, realize that your inbox is imploding, and you enter the project plateau, where most ideas die. We want to return to that energy and excitement, and then we come up with another idea.
  • This process repeats itself, again, again, and again.
  • What we want to do is survive the project plateau.
  • This is a love for idea generation
  • Why ideas never happen
    • The gravitational force of operations
      • The day to day stuff
    • A lack of feeling organized
      • 7% of people say they feel organized
    • Lack of leadership capability
    • Lack of feedback exchange
    • Disorganized and isolated networks
  • What behance is doing about it
    • We created a network for creatives to get more exposure for their work.
    • You can organize the world’s creative work when it is all located on the same platform
    • To help organize creative professionals and teams
    • On paper – action method products
    • “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
    • Focusing on execution
    • This is where the 99% conference came
  • How do some people and teams defy the odds and make ideas happen? again, and again…
    • Creativity/ideas + Organization & Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability
  • Organization
    • An endless stream of…emails, sms, messages
    • We are constantly reacting to what is coming in to us, rather than being proactive toward what matters to us
    • We must force ourselves to have deep thinking
    • Creative windows of non-stimulation – focusing on a separate list of two to three things that are important to you in the long term
    • Organization is the competitive advantage in the creative world
    • Creativity x Organization = Impact
    • What company was recognized for the world’s best supply chain management? – Apple
      • Apple’s ideas aren’t the first, but their execution is flawless
    • The best systems are made ourselves. Whatever tools or systems you are given from higher up, there is a membrane around why you do that.
    • The Action Method is just 3 things:
      • Action Steps – the tasks. the things that start with verbs. what did I capture, what did I complete?
      • Backburners – the things that came up that aren’t actionable yet, but may someday be.
      • References – the notes, the attachments, the handouts.
    • Meetings: Rethink meetings. These are extremely expensive.
      • If you leave a meeting without action steps then maybe you shouldn’t have had the meeting at all.
    • Having a culture of capturing action steps – when you’re talking to someone and they say they will follow-up but they didn’t capture it, make sure they write it down! capture it!
    • Create a backburner ritual
    • Progress begets progress
    • Prioritize projects visually//Energy Line – not where you should allocate your time, but where you should allocate your energy.
    • When teams miss deadlines, it is usually because they disagree on priorities
    • Optimize to surpass your horizon of success
      • Use A/B testing. Change something, and whichever option is most successful, just use that.
  • Communal Forces
    • The dreamers, the doers & the incrementalists
      • dreamers are happy when they go to bed at night thinking about new ideas to implement
      • the doer is somewhat of a debbie downer – the dreamer goes to bed happy when there are no surprises.
      • the incrementalist has this ability to rotate from dreamer to doer. they do too many things but they never scale.
    • You need other people around you.
    • Ideas don’t happen in isolation.
    • Share ownership of ideas – tell other people what to do, then when they come back you can either fix it yourself, or let them go run with it.
    • Seek competition
      • We need to pace ourselves with other people in our community.
      • Sometimes that is the impetus to act.
      • Fight your way to breakthroughs
      • Apathy hurts our constituents – as soon as someone checks out, you don’t know what they’re thinking.
    • Don’t become burdened by consensus
    • We should be able to push to our community so they are aware of what is going on.
      • This opens up self-marketing. You don’t want to over-promote yourself.
      • We want to overcome the stigma of self-marketing.
      • A respect based self-marketing strategy
      • Serving as a curator of what is interesting to them
      • Build our own respect-based self-marketing strategy
  • Leadership Capability
    • Leaders talk last//Silence the visionary
    • We need to buy engagement from our team – ask them first what they think we should do
    • Find and empower the hot spots – these are usually assistants
    • Value the team’s immune system
    • In a creative team, the doers are the immune system
    • Seek restraints – they are empowering for the creative process
    • Be the bureaucracy breaker
    • Push people into their intersection – this is the overlap of interests, skills, and opportunities
      • push other people into their overlaps
    • Gain confidence from doubt
    • Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means
    • Serve as the steward of your ideas
      • Responsibility > Opportunity
    • See your creativity not as an opportunity, but as a responsibility – don’t make your ideas happen for your own sake, but for all of us.
    • We need to realize that great ideas are used for so much more than ourselves

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