When an idea’s time has come
Great project ideas are:
I’ve been reading the book Change by Design by Tim Brown at a time when I’m ready to make some big career changes. For several years now, I have felt like I put down my first career, theatrical Sound Design to focus on becoming a creator of great web presences. And as that second career shifts into a new gear, I’m finding that my instincts are telling me to merge these careers into a single focus, so that my next five years leads me to create something that matters, grows, and delights.
I’ve always measured my life in the accomplishment of projects, and ticked off shows and websites like little battle notches on my computer. 140 theatrical productions. 80 educational productions. 7 dancing company members. 20 websites. 3000 jobs served on this site. 2000 unique viewers a day on that one. In moments of change, I start looking for the metrics that I most care about impacting. This time around, quantity alone won’t do.
Brown’s three requirements of a successful project are feasibility, viability, and desirability. The ability to accomplish something, the possibility of running with a successful business model, and the promise that what you create in the process will actually be valuable to someone somewhere. Running an agency for three years burnt the first two like tattoos into my knuckles, but somehow in the process of building identities for other companies, it often took a great deal of digging to find that desirability. And in the theatre industry, the culture valued that desirability, found it some of the time, got the show open one way or another and left viability out in the cold.
As I set up shop and hang my shingle, these three requirements feel like the parts of an engine I’m rebuilding. It’s not enough to just make money, it has to be valuable to the world. It’s not enough to be an endlessly fun brainstorm, it needs to be something I can build a team to execute. It’s not enough to work long hours, it needs to feed itself so that there comes a point where I can step back and watch it run on its own power.
The task ahead of me is to get the parts neatly into the right place, and soon it’ll be time to add gas, oxygen and fire it up.