In part 1 of this post I focused on being open to the creativity around us and some specific ways to broaden our creative horizons. In part 2 we’re going to pick up with the assumption that we’ve been open to the creativity around us and that now we have a beginning idea, or what I often refer to as a concept.

The most important thing I need you to take from this post is, YOU CAN’T BE MARRIED TO THIS CONCEPT. No concept is ever fully developed. Accept that. If you believe that your concept is a fully developed “great idea” that is ready for implementation, this process is going to be very difficult for you and I believe you will never fully achieve the greatness that you could if you let the concept develop.

In part 1 of this post I made the point that you have to surround yourself with people that are better and smarter than you. These people may be the people that you hire to work for you. Perhaps they are the volunteer staff that you trust with great responsibility. For me it’s always both of those, plus a group of friends that I have that are spread all over the country that are always pushing the envelop of innovation.

These individuals are now your sounding board, or commonly named, your creative team. Bring your concepts to the table of this group. Clearly communicate the concepts and then brace yourself. Most of the time you are not going to hear, “Wow! That’s amazing! Great work! Let’s go with that!” I’d venture to say that if that’s what you commonly hear when you present your concepts then you have the wrong people at your table. The table has to be surrounded with people that challenge you. Sometimes you may hear, “Wow bro, that idea is horrible”. You have to be prepared for that response and know that it’s ok. Most of the time you will hear, “Have you thought about _________?” These are the discussion you want! These are the discussions that will challenge your idea, push you to think deeper, more creatively and will enable the best ideas to rise to the top.

Often when presenting our concepts it is very easy to respond defensively. I will argue that you need to have passion in these conversations but it can’t be personal and you can’t be defensive. The moment you begin to become defensive, the creative process takes a back seat to what’s going on in your head.

This process can be very difficult as well as emotionally and mentally taxing. Some people aren’t up for dealing with all of the feelings that go along with this process. It’s easier; it’s safer to not open up to the critique of others. I get it! It’s a struggle! I make you this promise: there is nothing more energizing than a group of people hashing out a concept, fighting to develop it into a great idea and walking away with a plan of action and the resolve to see it come to fruition.

One of the biggest mistakes I see made is when a concept makes it through the process, becomes fully developed into a great idea, and then the person or persons that are going to execute the idea go straight to implementation. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS GREAT IDEA GET PLAYED OUT! Make time and space to see this idea in action. Physically work out the details and see exactly how it goes, what happens, learn about what you missed and figure out how to correct it. I hear all the time people talking about a “great idea” they had that when they tried to pull it off it just didn’t work out right. When I ask them if they tried it and tried it many times before they tried to execute it, the common response is “No”. This step is huge!

No matter how great your creative team is, there will always be things that you can’t fully imagine while sitting at your table that will happen during execution. You came up with your concept. You developed your concept into a great idea. Spend the time that your great idea deserves to see exactly how it will go in your environment.

There is so much that could be said or written on this subject. I by no means have this all mastered, but the things from parts 1&2 of this post are steps that I strive to achieve in my creativity. When I can fully work through everything I’ve written about in these posts, the results are usually the results that have people walking away saying, “Wow! That was amazing!”

Dream, create, practice, learn and then execute greatness.

Copyright Michael Cleveland 2014 Up