Leadership Reading List: Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky introduces his book Making Ideas Happen by saying something that anyone who has led a ministry for more than three days knows quite well:

Ideas don’t happen because they are great- or by accident.  The misconception that great ideas inevitably lead to success has prevailed for too long.  Whether you have the perfect solution for an everyday problem or a bold new concept for a creative masterpiece, you must transform vision into reality.

We have all sat in on those staff meetings where we wrestle through the issues facing our ministry.  After a while someone shares a brilliant, ministry changing idea, is with the group.  The idea is so good that everyone begins to high-five and the group breaks out in a spontaneous round of Kum-Bi-Ya.  The meeting adjourns on a high note which erodes over time as nothing becomes of the idea. We have all been there:  whether it comes on the heels of a conference, a great staff retreat, or the meeting described above… we know this feeling.  Which is why Belsky has written this book.

The book’s subtitle explains its purpose: overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality.  To do this, Belsky introduces the Action Method, walks through the importance of community, and discusses how to lead creatives.  While the entire book is a good read for those who lead in creative environments (yes, ministry IS a creative environment), I found the section on the Action Method to be most helpful… and a huge need in the church world.  The three basic concepts that shape the Action Method (which will get you started) are a bias towards action, personal ownership, and project based organization:

  • Bias Towards Action: Belsky puts it this way: “Most ideas come and go while the matter of follow-up is left to chance.”  The Action Method has a relentless bias towards action: when a good idea presents itself, it is immediately turned into an action step, a reference, or a backburner item.
  • Personal Ownership: Every action step is owned by someone, and that person acknowledges that they own the step.  At the end of every team meeting each team member clearly states what actions steps they own, and what they require.
  • Project Based Organization: Rather than organizing action items around location (home or office) or platform (email, twitter, facebook, or the next big thing) Belsky advocates organizing based on projects, and having all projects tracked in one centralized location.  The truth is that there is no such thing as work/life balance… there is just life and keeping it balanced requires us to know everything that is going on in our lives.

How do YOU make ideas happen?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Rookie Pastor

    Lately been using David Allen’s GTD method, or at least a version of it.

    The bias towards action in ministry is hard, because of a fear of failure and more importantly the aftermath of a failure. No one likes to screw up but no one really likes to deal with hearing about it all the time.

    • Matt Steen

      I have been trying to figure out how to respond in a way that won’t overly offend people all day.

      Here is my best shot:We need to get over ourselves, our fear of failure, and get to the work that we have been called to.  This is far too important for us to NOT have a bias towards action.

  • benwardmusic

    I love this book!!

    • Matt Steen

      and it loves you, Ben… 

      It loves you.