I was talking with my dad this week about the conference I just went to, and he reminisced about attending photography conferences. He said that he, too, would leave conferences with lots of new ideas and enthusiasm. But if he didn’t take action immediately when he returned, those big ideas were never realized.

making ideas happen

In the spirit of showing my work and forcing myself to take action, here’s my plan for making some of these new ideas I’ve collected happen. My office has a “fall kick off” staff retreat set for August 24. That is my ship deadline. I plan to have something remarkable ready to show our team by that date. Some are small projects that we’ve discussed for years but just never got around to doing. Others are big and can’t be completed in two months. However, it’s worthwhile to show them the progress we’ve made on longer term goals and begin to include the whole team in the next steps on bigger projects.

Watching Apple’s keynote yesterday, I was inspired by the way Apple announces new products and reminds its customers and its own employees of their mission. Apple keeps coming back to why they do what they do, and that makes the how and the what more meaningful. I’m envisioning allocating at least a portion of our staff retreat for an Apple-like keynote where we will unveil all the cool new stuff we’ve been working on while reinforcing the why’s of our work.

Having a fixed deadline will focus our efforts this summer. We can’t get away with just talking about these projects. If you’re ever frustrated about never getting around to that project that’s important but not necessarily urgent, give yourself a deadline. Make it public if you can. Magic happens when you’re working against the clock.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” -Leonard Bernstein

I’ve created a Keynote document that may or may not be the starting point for an actual presentation at the August 24 retreat. But I’m beginning with the end in mind and imagining now what would be ideal to present on that day. And then we will begin taking action to make these ideas happen. Keynote’s “Light Table” view (in Powerpoint it’s “Slide Sorter” view, I think) is a great place to brainstorm a project. I treat each slide like an index card with one separate thought or possibility per slide. They’re easy to see at a glance and simple to sort and rearrange (or delete) as the ideas evolve.

Real artists ship. If our work is our art, we need to make like a real artist and get busy making our ideas happen.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.29.57 AM   Tuesday, June 11