Book Review: Making Ideas Happen
A helpful book of counter-intuitive pragmatism.

Years ago I worked for a visionary pastor who saw ‘the city on the hill' that he believed our church could become and then he proceeded to lead us there. Using his preaching, pastoral care and personal charisma, he got everyone – or nearly so - focused on the one main goal of impacting our city for Christ. And because of his single-minded devotion, in time his vision became a reality. The church prospered, the community was blessed, and hundreds of lives were touched with the Gospel.

Unfortunately, that was the extent of his success. In subsequent years he lost his way. He regularly generated new ideas and strategies but hardly focused at all on the need for more organization and structure. He continued to change out staff and lay leaders, but spent almost no time building community with the ones who stayed. And he gave too little attention to the necessary practice of self-leadership. That, unfortunately, resulted in a tragic moral failure. Too bad Scott Belsky's book Making Ideas Happen wasn't around then. It might have saved our pastor, his family, and the church a lot of heartache and wasted resources.

Belsky's passion is to help people put their best ideas into action. As the founder and CEO of Behance, a company devoted to empowering and organizing the creative world, he and his team interviewed hundreds of productive people and teams over a six year period to discover the principles behind their success. The result of their empirical research is this book, a systematic presentation of the necessary steps needed to bring ideas to fruition.

The great inventor Thomas Edison once quipped, "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." For Belsky the perspiration part is composed of three overlapping forces: good organization and execution, the solidifying power of community, and capable leadership. Each of these is explained by a series of "mini-chapters" that demonstrate exactly how to bring your ideas from the world of creativity to the world of real life. In the author's view, only by using all three forces can individuals and their organizations overcome such ever-present obstacles as disorganization, perfectionism, and undisciplined creativity.

One of the many strengths of this fine book is its counter-intuitive pragmatism. Some of its most useful suggestions are: when it comes to ideas "less is more"; momentum must be maintained by acting on ideas "without conviction"; both team and interpersonal conflict are not only good but essential for projects to come to fruition; "nagging" others really does help to get things done; and when it comes to being productive, competition can be your best friend. All of these principles – and more – are neatly explained and illustrated with engaging examples from Behance's research. This makes the book a quick and enjoyable read.

June 07, 2010

Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments


October 24, 2010  9:23pm

This article seems to be a case study as well as a book review. He brings out the human nature and how its affect on us from the business of life can affect as well as deviates us from the vision God has given us. This seems like a book that every pastor or leader in a church or even a small business should read. Leaders as well as the members of the congregation tend to lose focus of the original plan or goal as time goes on and the goal isn't refreshed in their minds. Churches today tend to have great preaching and teaching, but very few actually apply it to their lives.

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June 09, 2010  9:20am

Actually sounds like a helpful book. I've been learning recently that "making a decision" (even a group decision) isn't near as difficult as "implementing the decision." I'll check out what the book has to say. Thanks, Scott.

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Kyle King

June 07, 2010  9:59am

Is Is this a book review or a book recommendation? I would prefer further inquiry into some of his ideas– is his thesis that 'good leaders of a church can accomplish their good ideas if they follow these steps'? What are the steps? And does he mention anything about waiting for God to send the right people at the right time beyond the leadership team to carry out their own ideas? From my perspective, the leadership team is best served equipping and coming alongside the congregations dreams and ideas and empowering them to be 'a kingdom of priests.' Instead what often happens is the leadership team comes up with their top ten ideas and makes them happen through recruitment and persuasiveness 'in the name of God.' We need more churches that allow the laypeople to take the reigns and receive callings and dreams from Jesus while the leaders come along side and equip them with good teaching, critique, and prayer.

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