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"Making Ideas Happen" – Part 1

Betsy Garrett
Betsy Garrett Thursday September 2, 2010
<? echo $type; ?> "Making Ideas Happen" – Part 1

Our team started reading through “Making Ideas Happen” recently, and we thought it would be a fun experiment to open up the discussion about this great book to our online community. So here goes….

Reading for Week 1: Pages 1-57

There were two big concepts that our discussion today kept coming back to from this section: (1) Capturing Ideas and (2) Creating a System for Managing Them. Pretty elementary stuff, but it’s good to start with the basics. Let’s talk about them a little more:

Capturing Ideas
This is pretty simple, when you write something down, it tends to stick. Often times a task will come to mind, and I actually think to myself, “I need to remember to do that.” And my anxiety level goes up a fraction of a notch because now I need to not only DO the task, but I also need to REMEMBER to do it. The natural solution is to capture the idea the moment it comes into my thoughts – either by writing it down myself or by asking the person making the suggestion/request to send it to me in an email.

My problem with this is that it’s not always convenient to capture the idea if I’m driving or making dinner or something else that prevents me from being near my pen and paper. Scott suggested a great software called Evernote that I’m going to try out. It allows me to create a project folder on my computer with a running list of Action Items and Reference Items associated with the project in this folder. Here’s the great part – there’s an app for my iPhone as well. So I can record quick voice messages or make a quick note when I’m on the go, and it automatically syncs up with the project folder on my computer. I see great things ahead!

Creating a System for Managing Them
I have a problem with my notebook where I currently track my projects. It is jumbled up with quick notes from passing conversations, personal to-dos, extensive meeting notes, and running lists of all sorts. Some lists are tucked in with other notes, and some are written on index cards and tucked in to various pockets.

None of it makes sense. Scott talks about solving this problem by using the Action Method which involves sorting through these various types of information and putting them into three categories:

  1. Action Items:
  2. The meat of your project information – the steps that need to be taken to get to the finish line. Each action item should start with a verb and should be owned by an individual responsible for making it happen.

  3. Reference Items:
  4. The important stuff that you may need to refer back to from time to time – sketches, budgets, notes. The trick here is to determine which of this information is worth holding onto and which information can go in the “circular file.”

  5. Backburner Items:
  6. This concept is like gold – have a location to record the ideas that will certainly come up but may not be actionable yet. Then have a system to revisit this list regularly.

One other quick note….Scott also mentions that whatever system you select for managing all of this information, it needs to be a system that works for you. There is no “one size fits all,” so please don’t try and adopt someone else’s formula and expect it to work the same way for you. This is where you can experiment until you find the right combination of tools.

This is a great foundation for making your ideas happen. Thank you to Scott Belsky for writing this resource! We’ll continue over the next three weeks with the following schedule:

September 9: Pages 58-106
September 16: Pages 107-162
September 23: Pages 163-218



More great reading material from Tony Morgan about Making Ideas Happen: https://tonymorganlive.com/2010/08/30/making-ideas-happen/