Oprah calls it a light bulb moment when you have a sudden inspiration, realization, or idea. But for many of us, it might as well be a senior moment because we just can’t find a way to make the idea a reality. If you just returned from the Professional Convention Management Association Convening Leaders conference and caught Scott Belsky’s presentation on Making Things Happen, here is a refresher. If you missed it, here are the steps the author and entrepreneur laid out to get things done.
The Belsky Formula: Creativity/ideas + organization and execution + communal forces + leadership capability
Organization and Execution
Windows of non-stimulation. It’s hard to overcome a reactionary workflow. Too many emails, voicemails, and meetings can overwhelm your time and resources. Even traditional places where we could order our thoughts in solitude, e.g. in the car or on the train to work, are now reachable with hands-free technology and Wi-Fi everywhere. To get things done, create windows of non-stimulation to focus on your list, do research, and contemplate. If you have to book yourself for a meeting, do it!
Set aside time for organization every single day, and organize with a bias towards action. Whether you have a digital or analog to-do list, capture all the steps to action, including getting sign offs and purchasing orders. If your corporate culture seems to mean that one meeting breeds four more, you may need to start measuring the value of a meeting in action steps accomplished. Organize a summary at the end where the attendees say what they think they are responsible for. This will weed out overlapping responsibilities, make clear who didn’t understand the workload, and lead to individual accountability.
Prioritize every project with your manager. You might be laboring on a low-priority when your brilliant idea could be saving the company money right now.
Review best practices. Once you have your organizational process in place, it is important not to be complacent. Taking the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach could leave you with outdated systems that are slowing you down. Test every process, from holding your meetings standing up to enforcing the same project management software, and adopt the best practices, then plan to retest those at regular intervals.
Share your ideas liberally. Chris Anderson, former editor in chief of Wired and the founder of 3D Robotics, puts his ideas on his blog. Encouragement and contributions from his followers gives him a sense of which ideas are worth pursuing, and community support and input helps move the idea forward.
Seek competition. If someone else is working on a similar idea, it will give you the impetus to act on yours.
Fight your way to a breakthrough. Lead with the controversial aspects of your idea instead of hiding them. Once those are accepted, the rest will be easier to accomplish. You will inevitably face compromises, so decide what is sacred and let go of the rest.
Adopt the idea that leaders talk last. When team leaders talk first, they set the direction of the meeting and shut out other ideas. Listen to the ideas of others and then bring up your own.
Embrace constraint. Having a big budget is nice, but resourcefulness can be as useful as resources. You might have to start small and scale up.
Break the bureaucracy. Once your idea is accepted, mark your calendar to follow up on permissions and budget requests. Don’t let your boss delay a decision, ask questions and create deadlines. Visualize yourself as an icebreaker in the Antarctic—if you stop moving, the ice will freeze around you.
Remember: Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means.