Making Ideas Happen - Review

I've followed Behance for a while now. I experimented with their Action Method, and replaced my moleskine with an "Action Journal" several months ago. When I found out their founder and CEO was putting out a book about helping creative types get things done, I put it at the top of my stack.

If you're the kind of person who struggles because you have lots of great ideas but never seem to accomplish any of them, Making Ideas Happen is a book you need to read. Don't read it if you're expecting a massive paradigm shift; it won't provide that. However, Belsky's book is loaded with practical ideas that help creative people capture and act on good ideas.

The book starts slow. The first few chapters read like a commercial for Behance's "Action Method." Belsky almost assumes you've heard of the "Action Method" and doesn't spend a lot of time unpacking it although the reader will have a firm grasp of it by the time the book ends. That's a good trait of the book. If you haven't heard of "The Action Method," a working knowledge isn't a prerequisite to getting quite a bit out of this book. It's fairly intuitive, and after you read more about it you'll wonder what the big deal is.

Belsky begins his book by helping you see ideas as projects. Some ideas are projects that need attention immediately, and some are projects that will not be tackled for long periods of time. Either way, from the inception of an idea it needs to be put into a pipeline with any other idea. Much of the first section of the book is designated to helping you understand an idea from inception to completion. He has great ideas on staying focused and managing your priorities. If you struggle with Idea ADD, pages 58-104 are must-read pages.

The second section of the book involves working with a team. Since very few genuinely good ideas can be accomplished alone, working with a team is an important dynamic. Unfortunately, it's a dynamic most creatives are awful at. Belsky's advice will help.

The final section of "Making Ideas Happen" speak specifically to the person leading a creative team. He talks about how to handle naysayers, and how to keep creative teams from running with bone-headed ideas. He ends by talking about self-leadership and the self-perception of leaders of creative teams.

Rarely am I as excited about a book when I finish it as I was when I started it. Fifty pages into "Making Ideas Happen" I was worried I was headed for a letdown. But by the end of the book I was wishing for more to read.

If you are a creative "idea" person, or if you (like me) are a wannabe creative person who leads creative people, this book is a good one to put toward the top of your stack.


Joe said...


I'll check this out.

You need to follow this book up with REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier. They're the founders of 37 Signals.

It's really about starting a business the right way, but I think it has productivity applications that you'd like. It's really common sense stuff about keeping things simple, focusing on what you can do well and giving people what they want.

It's also a very quick read...probably 1 sitting if you don't take a lot of notes.

Chris Freeland said...

I'll put it on my list.

"Starting well" is on my radar these days, so it would be a good read.


Symbian Guru said...

this has been in my Google Reader Starred items since you published it and I only just got around to purchasing this book on our Kindle. I'm definitely the target audience
(creative type who has a million ideas but only executes a small fraction of them). Looking forward to the read.