It’s not about ideas

With January come and gone, it's time for me to check in and see how I'm doing on my theme for this year: learning.

Learning
to do. Doing. Making. Not just thinking. It feels like I've been doing
too little thinking and definitely too little doing. Doing frightens
the life out of me. And I suspect that goes for most people. Ideas are
wonderful, I love them, I have lots of them, I get quite a kick out of
them. But they're not real. Not until I make them real. And sometimes I
do, but most of the time I don't. So I've been thinking why not. Why
don't the vast majority of my ideas see the daylight outside the narrow
confines of my head? Why do they float around, get written down
occasionally, discussed and debated with friends, but rarely
materalise?

I think
there's a couple of explanations. Firstly, I'm scared. Scared of doing.
Scared that it won't ever be as good in real life as it will inside my
head. Scared that if an idea becomes real, people will make fun of it,
or won't like it, or worse even, that I won't like it. As long as an
idea is just a few atoms floating around in my brain, it doesn't really
matter.

Secondly,
doing and making is hard. We don't get taught to do an make in schools
much beyond kindergarten stage. At least I wasn't. My education has
been very verbal and written, but hardly visual and creative in the
sense of creating physical objects. I think what I'm trying to say is
that I don't know how to make anymore. I live in my head. Like most of
us professionals do, making is what others do after I've done the
thinking. Also, education doesn't stimulate failing, it stimulates
success. No one gives you high marks for trying something and failing;
part of making and doing is failing however. You can't do or make
without occasionally failing. So I'm going through some remedial
training at the moment to think more visually and to stimulate myself
to fail. Better to have tried and failed, than not to have tried at all.

One
of the reasons I love my MADS course is that it forces me to do. We get encouraged to think, and research, and
to use a physical artefact in that research. I hadn't thought about
this much in my first year, but now that I'm working on my final
project, it's becoming something I think about more and more. How very
clever and well thought out that we should use something physical to
engage people in a conversation about our ideas. A physical thing makes
conversation that much easier.

I
was reminded of doing and making (the two for me are intimately linked)
by listening to a video clip of Bruce Nussbaum interviewing Tim Brown
of IDEO today, where Tim emphasizes the importance of getting thoughts
in the physical realm. Make it real.

Some learning-to-do inspiration
99% conference: It's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. (and talking about making things happen :-)

'Things
our friends have written on the Internet': Really Interesting Group and Ben's write up (happy to report I've got one of the 1,000 copies!)

Papercamp and a great write-up here.

I
saw that Tim Whirledge also wrote on making ideas happen, seen from an
agency perspective.

This post is dedicated to my partner in learning-to-do crime: Farhan