Organizations, products, services, and so on don’t just happen. I think sometimes we romanticize the process and make it into something it’s not. Other times, we make the mistake of thinking one part of the process is somehow more important than the others. Here’s how it goes.
You get this idea. You take the idea and do something with it; you take it from concept to reality. Then you take that prototype and make it even better. And then you keep making that product, providing that service, etc.
You can see the things that have to happen. Ideation, creation, refining, and making it real.
The sort of ideation we’re talking about here tends to have its origins in the minds of strategists, creators, and visionaries. It’s these folks who love to think, think, think. They might even be what some would call a bit of an “odd duck” or maybe an introvert. And just as you’re about to whisper to your colleague that Mr. Ideation over there wastes so much time thinking, Mr. I walks over to your area and says something starting with “So I have an idea I wanted to run by you…” Four and a half minutes later you’re trying to decide if the idea is crazy, brilliant, or a tasty cocktail of both.
But then what? Say the idea is fanfreakingtastic. It can’t simply live in Mr. Ideation’s head in perpetuity. That’s where our creators come in. They’re the ones who can decode these half-delusion-half-illuminations, and bring them from their current abstract form into something more concrete and tangible.
But even then we’re not done, are we? We can’t simply make or do a thing one time and call it good. This is where the refiners come in. They take the creator’s prototype and start fiddling with it, pushing on it, prodding it, kicking the tires, kicking the tires harder, taking a knife to the tires, and figuring out every possible way they can conceive of to make the thing better.
4. The Finishers
At that point, you have a fully-formed, refined, widget. But now what? Here’s where your make-it-real folks come into the picture. They make it happen, whatever that means. Maybe that means closing deals. Perhaps that includes finding efficient ways to make an s-ton of widgets. They make those widgets — the same ones that were at one point some cockamamie idea floating around Mr. Ideator’s head — a real and viable thing.
Now, you smartypants kids (you know who you are — the ones who complained to the rest of us when you got a 99 on a test in your super-duper advanced Calculus for gifted students course) are thinking But wait, I do elements of each of those every day. Does that mean I’m still smarter than everyone else in the class?
Well first, your stupid 99s didn’t make you smarter than the rest of us. Nerdier maybe, but not necessarily smarter. (That coming from a self-proclaimed nerd.) More arrogant perhaps, but not necessarily smarter. Second, almost everyone has elements of all of these within the scope of their positions. Now typically, you’ll be more heavily into one or two of them, but it’s likely you’ll dabble in all of them at some point.
But you see, it’s not just Miss Teen Calculus who struggles with thinking in unhealthy, less-than-constructive ways. It’s all of us. We tend to view the particular thing or things we contribute to the process as more, if not most, important. We would give token acknowledgement to “all the little people who helped make my…er…this dream come true” as the emotional Oscar-esque music cued up in the background.
The bottom line is that that’s the beauty of a team. It’s all these distinctly human and unique parts lending their particular and unique skill sets to create things others couldn’t and create them in ways others couldn’t. But it’s the mix of all them that makes it possible. We need to be self-aware, embrace a bit of humility, and appreciate the beautiful, amazing mess of humans around us, and be thankful to be counted among them.