Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

For decades the entire creative world has been propelled forward by the concept of brainstorming. Alex Osborn, the father of brainstorming, showed us how we could get groups of people together and, magically, come up with a room full of ideas. Unfortunately, this is where the story usually stops. As Thomas Edison famously once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. This is a book about the 99%, so get ready to sweat. Get ready to make your ideas happen.

Scott Belsky, the founder of Behance and the 99% Conference has dedicated years to researching how creative teams can become more productive and effective. In this book he’ll teach you how to take an idea and turn it into reality.

Part 1 – Organization and Execution

Any creative project hinges on the “little things” getting done. Even companies that are revered for their creativity and innovation like Apple have become masters of this. The only reason that we have the iPod, iPhone and iPad today are because of a relentless bias towards action. By studying the companies that are capable of marrying innovation with action, he developed what he calls the “Action Method”. Here’s how you can put it to use in your business today.

The first step along your 99% journey is going to be the realization that everything is a project. If everything is a project, then everything has to be managed. Good start. When you first start considering everything a project, things might get overwhelming. Here’s how you prevent this from happening to you.


Determine whether something should be an action step, a reference item, or a backburner item. Action steps are things that need to be done, reference items are things that you need to refer back to in order to get the action steps done, and backburner items are things that aren’t important to the project at the moment but might be at some point.

Associate every single one of these things to a project. If you can’t find a project to associate the item to, it’s likely that you just started a new project.

Assign every action item to somebody so that it can be “owned”. If nobody takes ownership of an action item, it doesn’t get done. And remember, an action item should start with a verb. For instance, “groceries” is not an action item, while “buy cereal from the grocery store” is. This is a seemingly small, but critical point to put to use.

Follow up religiously. If you delegate an action item to a member of your team, remember that you are still ultimately responsible for making it happen, so make sure that you create an action item to follow up with that person to make sure that the action item actually got done. Belsky suggests that you use the verb “ensure” at the beginning of this action item so you can easily search for all the follow-up items on your plate.

Design your own system. Make this system work for you by designing the mechanics of the system on your own. For instance, use a technology (whether it’s digital or analogue) that you feel comfortable with. He has found that people who have made their system “their own” are far more likely to actually follow through and use it than people who blindly follow a system made up by somebody else.



Foster an immune system that kills ideas. This one may seem counterintuitive, but it’s critical to your success. Along the way you are likely to be driven to add new ideas into the mix, or keep expanding your idea. This is one of the main killers of projects – too many ideas to execute. Kill them before they kill you.

Manage yourself. This one could fill a volume of books itself. Being self-aware and knowing your limitations and what to do about them will allow you to build a team that will forge through to success.

So there you have it – everything you need in order to get started making your ideas happen.