Brain Pickings

Scott Belsky on How to Avoid Idea Plateaus

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“Ideas are cheap and abundant,” proclaimed legendary management consultant and self-described social ecologist Peter Drucker, “what is of value is the effective placement of those ideas into situations that develop into action.”

Hand raise: Who here has had a big idea, the kind that keeps you up at night excitedly plotting its release into the world, only to have it plateau and lose steam before coming to fruition? We thought so. And how do we handle that? We come up with a new idea, a shot of creative dopamine to the brain, only to have it suffer the same fate. In his excellent talk from last year’s 99% Conference — one of our favorite cross-disciplinary event seriesScott Belsky breaks down how this trap works and how to avoid falling into it.

The project plateau is littered with the carcases of dead ideas that have never happened. What do we do? We just generate a new idea. We do it again and again and again. What we continue to do is we escape this project plateau with a new idea, and instantaneously we return to this high of excitement, this willingness to execute. And this is why there are more half-written novels in the world than there are novels.” ~ Scott Belsky

If you haven’t yet read Scott’s book, Making Ideas Happen, we strongly encourage you to do so. Barely a year old, it’s already one of the most important books on creative entrepreneurship ever published. Drawing on years of research and hundreds of interviews, Besky goes after the holy grail of ideation with a club and a smile. From what people who bring ideas to life have in common to understanding the chemistry of collaboration to how to avoid short-circuiting your reward systems, it’s the kind of guide that will make you just the right amount of uncomfortable and, in the process, better and smarter about your work, your productivity and your creative endeavors.

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