Part 1: Pushing Team Productivity and Action (an Ode to Making Ideas Happen)

Making Ideas Happen is a genius book and I’ve been utilizing it to its fullest- it’s great for anybody within any kind of business to take a peek at. I think it’s really important for a team because it instills a sense of responsibility and structure. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to action steps- if the whole team isn’t on board or isn’t following what makes sense, you’re going to end up with a huge discombobulation of everyone doing what they want to, when they want to. Below are some excerpts that I thought would be useful, from Making Ideas Happen, in working within teams and for individual workflow as well.

Action Method Excerpts- Tally ho!

Attraction often breeds commitment: If you enjoy your method for staying organized, you are more likely to use it consistently over time. For this reason, little details like colors of folders you use or the quality of the paper can actually help boost your productivity.

This is SO TRUE. I have a hodgepodge of different sticky note colors and little action cahiers because I LIKE THEM. And when I like something, I use it. I enjoy it. Everyone has an individual method to keeping track of their personal tasks which is necessary. Find the method that is best for you- because when you’re organized as an individual you’ll be organized in the team as well.

While many project management methods support “to-do” lists that multiple people can share, true accountability is never achieved unless your team members choose to accept their delegated Action Steps. Not only should outstanding work tasks be transparent to all members of the team (or at least one or two other colleagues), but your colleagues should activity accept or reject Action Steps that you assign them. This “conceptual handshake” creates accountability and eliminates the ambiguous Action Steps that notoriously clog the progress in any project.

I completely agree with this, and he couldn’t have said this in a better way. I know having a check and balance system can be annoying, but when you’re leading a team or  working within one, you really need to have a system like this in place. Nothing is more frustrating than making sure you’re accountable for everything given to you, and then not having people do the same. If I have an action step delegated to me, I confirm- and I generally expect the same when I delegate myself.

If you have a disconnect in the team and you aren’t sure if something has been seen or acknowledged, it could seriously kink the whole team’s effort. Not having confirmation is equivalent to having a car without a functioning gas pedal. You know the pedal is there, but you can’t get any motion til you feel the movement. It’s simple to me.

  • Input action steps into system
  • Acknowledge
  • Confirm ability to complete task
  • Acknowledge that task has been completed

Yes, it seems very forced and rudimentary but when you having vagueness floating around it makes it difficult for the team to start and finish their project. Once a team member gets used to not conforming to everyone else’s standards, it becomes harder to make them engage with the team and see themselves as a vital part of it. A rogue team member will often feel they don’t need to confirm action steps which alienates them and also causes confusion among other team members.

Whatever action management system you use, Action Steps should be recorded in a consistant way, assigned to a project, and given a due date (when applicable). By doing so, you are setting yourself up for the ultimate productivity.

Consistency is key and I think setting an internal deadline is best since sometimes projects don’t go according to plan. This way you have a buffer from your actual deadline. I usually set internal deadlines for my own work so I trick myself into thinking it needs to be done earlier than it does.

If it can be done in two minutes, it should be done right away. After all, it will take a minute or so just to enter it into your system, so why not take care of it already?

What can I say about this? It’s so true. If you have a task that will take you no time at all, don’t procrastinate until you truly don’t have time and need to push it off. Unless it’s a personal task, it will affect everyone.

Don’t dwell. When urgent matters arise, they tend to evoke anxiety. We dwell on the potential negative outcomes of all the challenges before us- even before the action is taken. Worrying wastes time and distracts us from returning to the important stuff.

It’s true. Often times when we’re working on multiple projects, things that come up will throw us into a frenzy because it doesn’t fit into our plan. We have to take these in stride- the amount of anxiety you allot to something new isn’t going to change what has to be done, or the outcome. It can only harm the outcome if you shut yourself down.

Hoarding urgent items is one of the most damaging tendencies I’ve noticed in creative professionals who have encountered early success. When you are in the position to do so, challenge yourself to delegate important items.

I’ll admit it. I’m extremely guilty of this. I trust things to be done in my own hands, so often times I won’t delegate. I’ve been actively working on this lately and I feel like I’m making progress with trusting team members to work on things that are urgent so I can concentrate on my main tasks at hand. This goes back to acknowledgement of an action step- If you’re delegating a task and nervous about whether it might be done the way you want it to be, make sure the action step is acknowledged by your team member and it will put your mind at peace.

  • You can check in from time to time on progress, but not too much.
  • If it’s a week long process, maybe check in every few days.
  • Both you and your team members should be mutually accepting of this practice and know that it’s nothing against their ability to work, it’s simply to make sure it’s done effectively and to show that you’re available for help if wanted.
  • Team members can get annoyed with check ins if they know they aren’t proactively working on the task they need to be. Be calm.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be walked on and if you feel you are- let your superior know.
  • Make it clear that if the task cannot be complete, to be notified ahead of time- this will also set your mind at ease and set boundaries.

If you are new to delegation in the team environment, make sure it’s clear if you’re receiving negativity from the team. A team can be like a pack of hyenas if they don’t accept your position or aren’t willing to see you as someone they need to be willing to work with. Much disconnect comes from a lack of clear hierarchy ; and while hierarchy clearly isn’t everything (especially in the creative environment) it helps with the check and balance system and makes everyone’s lives easier on the team when they willingly acknowledge and execute.

Amidst the chaos of meetings and trying to prioritize the elements of  multiple projects, nagging from others helps you prioritize by natural selection. When someone is consistently bothering you about something, chances are you have become a bottleneck in the team’s productivity. As you allocate your energy across projects, it is often difficult to know how your decisions affect others.

I don’t like the word “nagging” (mainly because it’s used by people in the married life talking about their significant others) but I LIKE being nagged at in the work place. I like knowing when something becomes urgent, and I like making sure I get it quick and make the other person’s life easier. Nag away! If you want something done, just tell me.

I totally support this culture and you would be surprised at how many highly successful companies pointed out in this book support this culture as well- it attributes to their success because they don’t have rogue employees.

Making ideas happen actually boils down to self-discipline and the ways in which you take action.

I remind myself of this everyday. Is something not getting done on my end? I probably just need to sit my ass down and considering it urgent to myself. There is NO benefit to procrastination unless it involved pizza/chinese food night, wine and a movie. Then, it’s kind of acceptable :)

When we become passionate about a particular project and invest tremendous amounts of time and energy, it’s only natural that we become less willing to change course. Momentum and other sources of energy that help us survive the project plateau can also make us headstrong. As we become more confident, we also become more resistant to change- even when we need it.

I’m used to change. I’ve lived my life moving (sometimes even living outside the country) and adapting to new places, people and things. My brain thrives on changes and I really see the benefit. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone for the benefit of the project is crucial for self improvement and growth. If you’re on a team and your project needs to be adapted or others have ideas as to what could help with an issue- accept it. Your team is there to help and support you, not mess up your projects.

In my industry especially, change is important and if you can’t work with it, you either need to find a way to do so, or get left behind.

This is all I’m going to pull from the book in regards to the Action Method. Part 2 (which I will be putting up later today/tomorrow) is going to go over leadship and team productivity- pulling more quotes from the book :)

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  • school grants

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  • Peter @ideasbubble

    “Making ideas happen actually boils down to self-discipline and the ways in which you take action.”nnI agree that this is quite an important point. Often we are too scared to get on and do something because we don’t know what the outcome will be. We need to take action and actually do something or we will end up nowhere.nnThanks for the great post :)nPeter J

  • Selena Narayanasamy

    I agree! A lot of people are afraid of failure. Let me tell you, the times that I’ve failed or made mistakes are the times that forced me to reassess my strategy and work harder.nnI think people need to welcome failure :)nThanks for the comment!