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3 Creative Tips for Making Ideas Happen

Ideas are cheap, but creative ideas put into action are priceless.

Making your ideas come to life is often a difficult process with multiple obstacles along the way. I’m much better at starting a creative project or idea than finishing. Just check out my eBay account for all the podcasting equipment I bought for my online news show, or take a peek into my Moleskine at the forgotten ideas peppered throughout the pages, or even the domain names I’ve purchased—or planned to purchase—throughout the years. Seriously, what was I thinking with Flo-mo.biz? 

However, over the last five years I’ve learned some secrets from a number of experts in the idea business. And, professionally, I’ve also been challenged by some large scale creative projects with what it takes to see an idea through to completion. 

Here are three creative idea-making tips I’ve learned along the way. These have helped me manage the creative process better and actually get things done.

Create a detailed plan

I know, we’re starting out with the hard stuff first. Creatives aren’t known for their Excel skills and project management but if you want your ideas to come to life there has to be a plan in place. This is probably the most crucial tip of all (aside from actually having a killer idea).

Charles Lee, the CEO of Ideation and the creator of the Idea Camp, says, “Unfortunately, many creative leaders have given themselves a false sense of permission not to organize, all in the name of artistry and creativity. But reality is that most creative people who lived out their dreams have actualized their passion through intentional planning and hard work.”

This is the not-so-sexy side of creativity, but all good creative ideas require a great plan. 

Give your ideas away

We have a natural tendency to hoard our ideas—to protect them from idea-theft or, even worse, idea-ridicule. But, creatives that see ideas through know a little secret—it’s better to risk it and share your ideas freely.

When you share your creative ideas with others you can get valuable feedback and even help for the journey. In preparing to launch ChurchLeaders I met with many leaders but one dinner with Brad Lomenick, the Director for Catalyst, served well to help sharpen my vision for the site and challenged me to push forward in some new directions.

Scott Belsky says, “No great creative project can thrive (or even survive) off the energy of one person.” I completely agree. Share your ideas, get a mentor, do what you can to get your idea to other creatives.  

Build slow, launch fast

The slow part of the idea is typically on the front end. Don’t be afraid to think—and rethink—your idea from many different angles but make sure you’re making forward progress.

Once you have a clear plan and you’re sharing your idea with other creative leaders be prepared to make tiny corrections all along the way. Don’t underestimate the impact of micro-changes. It might be a color difference, one pixel in the size of your navigation bar, a change to your project plan, or even a font adjustment—but these small changes carry great weight. Plan for steady, smart growth.

And when it’s time to launch and you’ve done all you can to prep your idea—launch it fast and don’t second guess yourself. You can question your idea all you want before launch but when it’s time to go live, move forward with confidence—or blind faith—either way, just pull the trigger.

One final thought… don’t be afraid to fail. Many ideas do fail, but the lessons you’ll learn from actualizing your ideas will give you fuel for the next round.

Seth Godin says, “The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.” 

What tips have you learned about making ideas happen?