Great ideas do not guarantee success. Having a great idea is only about 1% of the creative process. The other 99%, as Thomas Edison said, is perspiration.

Scott Belsky, creativity analyst and author of Making Ideas Happen, noticed that most ideas got lost somewhere in that sweaty 99% and set out to discover how to make more ideas actually happen: How to get from “Ping!” to product or service.

And BTW, creativity is not just something that painters and sculptors do. It’s something everyone does every day. We all have ideas, plans, and projects that we are trying to move from lightbulb moment to reality: Preachers make sermons; Homemakers make beautiful rooms, tasty meals, and kids birthday parties; Politicians make laws; Builders make houses; Gardeners make gardens; Farmers make food; Teachers make lesson plans, etc.

Belsky found that whatever activity he looked at, the creative “sweat” had three common characteristics:

  • Organizational Habits: Especially important in a world of information overload and constant connectivity.
  • Community Engagement: Ideas did not happen in isolation but rather through sharing and feedback.
  • Leadership Capability: An ability to build and motivate teams to overcome doubts and obstacles along the way to execution.

Belsky’s takeaway: Spend less time on looking for the next great idea and much more on making existing ideas happen.

The ideas that move industries forward are not the result of tremendous creative insight but rather of masterful stewardship. Yes, there is a method to the madness of turning an idea into a reality—it’s just not as romantic as you thought [Making Ideas Happen, 8].

“Eureka!” will disappear down the plughole unless it is clothed with organization, collaboration, and leadership. Productivity must be twinned with creativity.

As Making Ideas Happen is especially helpful in its discussion of organization and collaboration – not so much in the area of Leadership – I’ll highlight Belsky’s advice in these two areas over the next few days.

You’ll find more insights on making ideas happen at Belsky’s awarding winning website, 99%.