April 21, 2020

When a big idea isn't enough

Having a big idea is the key to success, right? Not so. It's what you do after the big idea that counts.

People think that every big idea goes the same way: a humble, hard-working visionary is going about their daily routine when suddenly, a "eureka!" moment. To them comes their big idea, the revolution that's going to turn heads, get attention, change lives. The idea is communicated to their team, they jump on board, and a revolution begins.

Not so. Big ideas, even those which are easy to come by, still take a boat load of planning, work and even frustration to get off the ground. There's back-and-forth, there's a loss for where to go next, there might even be some in-fighting or questioning. The point is, a good idea isn't magic. There are things you need to do to keep your back pocket to actually help a big idea go along smoothly.

An idea is only as good as the team

It's all about the team. Surround yourself with brilliant people. Bring in people who know more than you about a certain subject (yes, this means being able to actually admit that someone is better than you). These people exist, they are out there. Why? Well, obviously, you want someone who has the know-how to bring your idea to life at the standard you've set out. But more importantly, having someone who can outsmart and outwit you keeps you in check.

Big thinkers are often the types of people with big imagination — people who might need some reeling in, some calming down. That's why surrounding yourself with intelligent and grounded people who are serious about their craft can help give you some sturdy walls to bounce off of. They stop your big idea from growing out of control — they can help steer the bus while the wheels are rolling.

Be open to criticism

Ginsberg's infamous "kill your darlings" quote is something people love to preach to others. Not so much when it's applied to them. We're all convinced that our "darlings" — the little bits of our writing that we think are wittiest, the aspects of our ideas that seem really exciting — are not actually deserving of such callousness. But when you're sitting down with experts working on developing your big idea, you have to be willing to listen to their opinions.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that the aspects of their big ideas that get them the most excited are usually the weakest parts of them. People get excited about the frills and "extras" of an idea more than they get excited about the base, the foundation. But it's those firmly planted principles which don't shift, and rarely will intelligent critics tear those down completely. They'll work to shift them, to mold them and shape them, but your idea is still the same at its core — just fewer sparkles, perhaps.

Get real

Pull away from the creative and focus yourself on things like timelines, budgets, distribution — the "boring" things. Even if they don't seem sexy, the guides that keep a big idea on track are tangible things. Knowing how long it will take to develop something and how much it will cost to pull it off is the real driving factor, here.

Why? Because, and we've said this before, focusing on the creative aspect of something is only a small part of the picture. If you don't stick to a well thought-out schedule and keep things in check in terms of budget, your idea is as good as non-existent. Keeping everything organized is key.

All in all, just because you have a Big Idea (even a very very good Big Idea), doesn't mean you're heading straight to the bank. You have to keep yourself grounded, keep all the details in check, and most importantly, keep it real.