Scott is the founder and CEO of Behance, a company that develops products and services for creative industries. Behance oversees the Behance Network, the world’s leading online platform for creative professionals; The 99%, Behance’s think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in the creative world, and Action Method, a popular online/mobile productivity application and line of organizational paper products.
TONY: Why does it seem that some people and organizations have a knack for making ideas happen while others flounder?
SCOTT: As we all know, most ideas never happen. But some people/teams are able to consistently defy the odds…and execute their ideas time and time again.
I firmly believe that ideas DON’T happen because they are great – or by accident. Ideas are made to happen through a series of other forces.
One big factor is a person’s ability to stick with one particular idea long enough! Most ideas are left abandoned in what I’ve come to call the “project plateau.” The project plateau is like an expansive desert, void of any oasis of inspiration or excitement. It is the pure drudgery in the middle stages of a project; ceaseless follow-ups and a lot of hard work with no clear end in sight. As we trudge our way through, we get distracted by life’s demands. As creative minds, we also come up with new ideas that entice us to escape the doldrums of the project plateau and start all over again with something new and shiny. The project plateau is especially difficult to endure without the usual short-term rewards that keep us motivated. The usual financial reward and fanfare won’t be there for you in the middle of a project.
You know you’re in a project’s plateau when you feel isolated and uncertain if your idea will ever see the light of day.
The folks that consistently make ideas happen have found ways to keep themselves and their teams motivated, organized, and accountable throughout a project.
TONY: How does my leadership need to shift if I want to maximize the impact of creatives in my organization?
SCOTT: Great leaders of creative teams are able to share ownership of ideas. Giving up a little control will yield a greater sense of ownership – and ultimately a better performance from your people. Nothing beats the potential of a creative mind that is fully empowered (and supported) in their pursuit.
TONY: Churches tend to love consensus and conventional wisdom. Is it any wonder we get stuck?
SCOTT: I find that nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and any other creative team that is motivated most by a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose will face unique obstacles. After all, innovation thrives on disagreement, questioning the status quo, and taking risk. Great leaders in these organizations are able to strike the right balance between comfort and challenge.
The most creative (and productive) teams I have met in social enterprise have leaders at the help that are willing to be unpopular at times.
TONY: Tell us about the 99%.
SCOTT: The 99% is Behance’s research arm and think tank. The name “99%” was inspired from Thomas Edison’s famous quote that “genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” At the 99%, we only focus on the execution/perspiration part, not the ideas themselves!
Over the years, The 99% has become a popular daily web magazine, an annual conference that sells out months in advance, and a consulting practice for teams and companies that want to increase the productivity of creative pursuits.
Through articles, tips, videos, and events, we share best practices that help creative professionals move beyond idea generation into idea execution.
For more thoughts from Scott, here’s my Amazon affiliate link his nationally bestselling book Making Ideas Happen.