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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Anyone with much experience with brainstorming sessions already knows that "making ideas" is quite easy. Making them HAPPEN is quite a different challenge and a much more formidable one. Again I am reminded of Thomas Edison's admonition, "Vision without execution is hallucination." What we have in this book is a remarkably comprehensive as well as a lively and informative discussion of how almost anyone can develop the capacity to master a process that Scott Belsky characterizes as a "primer":

1. You have ideas (yours or someone else's) that you want to make happen: "Most ideas get lost in what I call the `project plateau,' a period of intense execution where your natural creative tendencies turn against you." Belsky explains what these tendencies are as well as how to avoid of overcome them.

2. Making ideas happen == ideas + Organization = Communal forces = Leadership capability: "We will dive into ach of these forces and discuss how you should use them in your own creative pursuits." Belsky delivers in abundance on that promise.

3. Organization enables you to manage and ultimately execute your ideas...or someone else's: "The Action Method [that Belsky explains and discusses in detail] is a composite of the best practices for productivity shared by creative leaders." Belsky has picked the brains of hundreds of the most productive creative thinkers and shares their most valuable insights, as well as his own. Better yet, he organizes them in the aforementioned Action Method, a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system to make ideas happen.

4. The forces of community are invaluable and readily available: "Ideas don't happen in isolation.
You must embrace opportunities to broadcast and then refine your ideas through the energy of those around you." The greatest teams achieve their success with communication, cooperation, and most important of all, collaboration.

5. Fruitful innovation requires a unique capacity to lead: "While the tendency to generate ideas is rather natural, the path to making them happen is tumultuous. This book is intended to outfit you with the methods and insights that build your capacity to defy the odds and make your ideas happen." The process of effective execution of ideas, once refined through rigorous collaboration, requires leadership that combines tenacity with patience, vision with a compulsion to make that vision a reality, and personal integrity with what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as a "built-in, shock-proof crap detector."

Belsky devotes an entire chapter to self-leadership, calling his reader's attention to the fact that "as you lead others in creative pursuits, you are your greatest liability. Self-leadership is about awareness, tolerance, and not letting your natural tendencies limit your potential." What does he suggest?

"Find a Path to Self-awareness. Our best hope for staying on track is to notice when we stray and to figure out why - to be self-aware. Self-awareness is a critical skill in leadership but it is deeply personal. It is not about our actions but abut the emotions that trigger them.

"Develop a Tolerance for Ambiguity. Patience in the face of ambiguity helps us to avoid rash decisions driven by our emotions instead of our intellects. We must use time to our advantage to temper our tendency to act too quickly.

"Capture the Benefits of Failure. When things go wrong, there are three questions we should seek to answer:

* What external conditions may explain the failure?

* What internal factors may have compromised your judgment?

* Are there any gems in the unintended outcomes?

"Avoid the Trap of Visionary Narcissism. The tendency to think that a given opportunity or challenge is a one-off persists. I have come to call this propensity "visionary narcissism" - it is a leader's default thinking that he or she is an exception to the rule."

The word "how" is frequently used throughout my review because, as I hope my comments suggest, Belsky is a diehard, world-class pragmatist who was determined to learn everything he could about how to make ideas happen. The observations he shares in this brilliant book are anchored in a wealth of real-world experience (his and others'); his recommendations, therefore, are research-driven. For those who now struggle to understand the obstacles between vision and reality, as well as for those who now struggle to overcome these obstacles, this is a "must read."
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on 30 July 2011
I must confess straight away that I'm a fan of the Behance Action Method. The book is about the rationale behind the Action Method and how Scott Belsky arrived at the method to get "creative" people organised so that they actually deliver on the ideas that they have. The focus of the book and of Behance, is on execution. This is not a book on how to have more ideas; rather it deals with implementing those ideas that you already have and for this reason stands out in a crowded market.

The first part of the book explains how the Action Method was developed through years of research among the leading "creatives" and then describes how to implement it, and why doing so is a good idea. One of the key ideas is to treat all Action Steps as part of a project and this is the key one that works for me. David Allen's GTD productivity method is popular in the IT world, but I've always struggled with it for reasons that I can't quite identify. However, using the Action Method has sorted this out for me by simply classifying everything as part of a project and sorting it into Action Steps, Backburner Items and References has given me better flexibility to cope with an eclectic work environment.

As the Action Method is focused on execution, much of the book is given over to day-to-day execution and how to progress a given project. What the book doesn't deal with is longer term, higher level goal-type systems and for this, you'd be better off trying something else, but if you want a good, simple method of processing daily actions then this is a good book to own.

Overall, I think the book is slightly too long and does labour some points: Maybe that's because Belsky is good at getting his points across in writing. The book also over-labours the "celebrity" examples. OK famous "creatives" use this style of productivity method, I get it.

If you can live with this, it's a darned good, practical book that provides a system that gives you personal organisation and room to think at the same time.
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on 18 January 2011
This is a good book for getting better at getting things done. Personally I find the idea part to stretch the concept slightly. I have tried several times to use the Action Method to help me get ideas to happen but cannot say that I have felt a massive change. But it helps you with tasks and moving forward.
Perhaps it should have been named Making productivity happen. Not so easy sold that one...
I found the book to be too long and slightly repepetive. This could have been told on a lot less pages without anything important gone missing.
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"Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:" -- Isaiah 14:24 (NKJV)

Psychologists estimate that the average person has over 10,000 thoughts a day. I believe that because I once met a consultant who would share almost that many thoughts with me every time we met. The only problem was that these weren't very useful thoughts . . . but he sure loved each and every one. I took to peeking around corners so I could avoid his latest informal briefing. That's one kind of problem that people have with their ideas . . . they don't attract any interest.

Mr. Belsky organizes the method of turning ideas into action according this formula:

"(The Idea) + Organization and Execution + Forces of Community + Leadership Capability"

The book digs into this formula by first proposing a way of organizing work on ideas (the Action Method). I found the proposal to be reasonably similar to the way I organize my work so I suggest you take it seriously if you have trouble keeping track of what's going on the moving things forward expeditiously. I agree with the key point that it takes a lot of effort to turn an idea into reality. Most of my books were conceived of in a few seconds or minutes, but the work involved to write and produce one takes months of dedicated, consistent effort. Implementations that build on the books take 100 times more effort.

I also agree with the point about concentrating your efforts. Otherwise you get 1 percent of a lot of things done, which amounts to nothing being accomplished.

I thought that Mr. Belsky also did a good job of pointing out how collaboration helps. Right on!

I personally found the section on leadership capability to be the most practical. After reading that section, I had six ideas for accomplishing more and have implemented two of them this week with good success. I suspect that all six ideas will work well. I cannot remember the last time I developed six valuable new ideas from reading a business book. Bravo!

I also suspect that this book will reward re-reading, something I intend to test out in a few months.

Get this book, read it . . . then get serious about turning your ideas into reality!
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on 14 January 2015
I liked this. It's aimed at 'creatives' (designers, artists and the like) - people who are excited by ideas and have energy to explore and create, but aren't always as disciplined as they could be at getting practical and organised to get things done. That said, my experience in many years of consulting has been that many people who don't label themselves as creative, still have the same struggle when they come up with a new idea which makes them slightly uncomfortable, so I'd say this is useful for anyone who has ideas they want to make happen if you can ignore some of the assumptions he makes about your career path.
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on 15 April 2013
Good thought provoking read. I bought it mainly for more info on "The Action Method" way of getting things done. However the rest of the book also has some interesting gems hidden for the reader to dig out. I say that as at times the going can seem a little tough but it's well worth the effort.
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on 22 July 2014
Been using the ideas here time and again with people involved in any aspect of the creative industries who take their art and business seriously and don't see the two in conflict. As someone who sits between those worlds this is a real goldmine of actionable idea and challenging thoughts Rob @ Blue Hippo Media/Impatient Management
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on 8 February 2011
I was actually quite eager to read this book. But got somewhat disappointed. Basically, it seems that the "tricks" are:
* to keep a well prioritized list of actions that bring things forward
* skip making unnecessary documentation and nice-to-have things
* make appropriate use of friends and relations
I do not disagree with these points. They are are definitely needed. But I did expect to find more practical examples and more specific good advices about the practical problems entrepreneurs often face, eg. how to involve other people, how to tackle financials.
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on 5 January 2013
For some reason that I don't recall this book was recommended to me because apparently it was slanted towards artists.
To some extent it is. At least it's opening salvo runs along the lines that artists are horribly disorganised, slovenly people and if they just got their act together... Well, it doesn't make any promises but I assume that if the artists got their act together then they too could drive expensive cars and live in massive mansions just like business consultants or people who write self-help books.
About thirty pages in this book begins to get as boring as a typical corporate training day and I expect that by the end of the book your life can become so computerised, scheduled and efficient that you will easily transition into a job in accountancy. Personally I will never get that far because the tone of the book increasingly made my skin crawl. The author mentions his huge network of contacts in the arts. But has he ever wondered what these people do once he has left the room? I'm sure there is a huge sigh of relief and the champagne comes out.
I think this book pretends to be for artists in order to make it's real target audience - cubicle land - feel cooler about themselves. Fair play. I made a mistake ever picking it up. At least I haven't given it one star!
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on 27 January 2013
I didn't find this book was trying to sell the Behance Network Action Plan Method. A few chapters highlighted it and gave a convincing argument why it works. Thought the rest of the book gave clear, common sense advice on how to get ideas from just ideas to actually getting done we're very good. Why not 5? Found it difficult to read as was a bit dry in places so read it over time.
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