As my team and I embark on another year of researching and summarizing managerial wisdom on Open Forum, we are taking inventory. In the ‘80s, the hot topic in management was efficiency and doing more with less. With the introduction of “Six Sigma” in 1981, companies started competing on quality and efficiency in production. In the ‘90s and early ‘00s, the talk changed to innovation – developing new stuff just to keep up! Books on innovation crowded bookshelves as companies sought the creative edge.
But now it is 2010, and we see the two realms converging: Idea Generation & Execution.
Small businesses are angling to compete and capture market share with new ideas. But, at the same time, this rush of imagination is grounded with a sobering dose of reality. In such an uncertain economy, ideas are worthless without great execution.
Gone are the days when you needed a gigantic technology or development staff and multi-million dollar marketing budgets to launch a new product. Today, a standard computer, a well-managed rolodex, and a savvy understanding of social marketing can suffice. This is good news and bad news. Going forward, you will be able to quickly test and implement ideas. However, so will everyone else (notably your competitors).
For this reason, I would argue that EXECUTION is the competitive advantage that deserves more discussion. Good ideas coupled with great execution make the perfect marriage. With great execution, you can develop an idea, refine it, test it, implement it, and then push it broadly and consistently.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already got great ideas of your own. So, my New Year’s pledge is that I WON’T try to help you generate more ideas. My articles – and those from the 99% (Behance’s think tank on organization, leadership, and execution) – will not inspire your next big idea. On the contrary, my aim will be to push you toward taking action.
For this reason, I am calling 2010 a year of execution. We need to climb out of the trenches and become better stewards of our ideas. Discussions in this column will be about organization, productivity, and managing in the digital age. Why? Because this is what creative leaders need to be talking about in 2010.
It has been said before, "The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."
As a manager, you must wake up to the grave obstacles that hinder great and timely execution. These obstacles are real, but they are not insurmountable.
***This article is based on research by Behance CEO Scott Belsky, whose book, Making Ideas Happen, will be published by Penguin in April 2010. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think thank, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.