Idea Makers

Idea Makers & Idea Takers

This post has been years in the making. However, it was only recently after digging into brand purpose that I really understood the transformational nature of the relationship between idea makers and idea takers.

I love ideas. It’s probably why I value creativity and especially why I’m drawn to brainstorms. Working at PR and ad agencies over the years, I would seek out every opportunity I could to attend brainstorm sessions. In my mind, this was where the real magic happened.

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to work with some tremendously talented people. People I came to admire for their creativity, how they made others feel or for they way they approached problems. In some cases, for excelling in areas I didn’t.

I can think of a few people like this and one in particular. He made things look easy. Never seemed to get ruffled by gruff clients or office politics. But, most interesting to me, he had a knack for taking creative ideas and putting them into action.

In brainstorms, while most of us were focused on filling the walls with big, audacious ideas and What If scenarios, he was less vocal thinking about how to turn the best ideas into real, actionable programs.

Watching this process play out got me thinking about how ideas manifest and then turn into something more tangible. I started to notice some colleagues were really good at thinking big and seeing the big picture. They had big ideas and an even bigger vision.

Then, I noticed a second group: implementers. People with a gift for execution and management. Individuals with the unique skills to see the vision and know how to make it happen. I started calling these two groups: idea makers and idea takers. Once I made this distinction, I realized they have an important and symbiotic relationship.

Reading Simon Sinek’s acclaimed book, Start with Why, I recently learned I had identified the special relationship between WHY people and HOW people. Sinek explains when you look at some of the most iconic WHY people, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Herb Kelleher, they each had HOW people by their side, Steve Wozniak, Roy Disney and Rollin King, respectively.

“Those who know WHY need those who know HOW,” the book continues. Idea makers need idea takers.

Years later, when building my own team, I remember the CEO telling me, “Hire someone just like you with skills that complement yours.” He was a clear WHY leader. Looking back, I realize, like Sinek, he was saying, “Hire someone who sees your vision, believes in it and has the right skills to help you put that vision into action.”

As I’m putting together a new process for helping business leaders identify and own their purpose, I’ve been thinking about these WHY and HOW relationships. I’m trying to find more ways to foster these transformational partnerships between WHY people and HOW people. Idea makers and idea takers. 

I’m curious…are you a WHY person or a HOW person? There’s no right or wrong answer because the truth is we need each other.

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