March 2012

Being a "Closer"

Ideas, as we all know, can be incredibly powerful forces. And we are deeply fortunate to be part of a community where colleagues at all levels have the talent and creativity to come up with so many good ones.

But it strikes me that having great ideas is not enough. There’s also the matter of follow-through.

I’m sure you can think of many situations where even the most incisive insights don’t really achieve anything. There’s “Monday-morning quarterbacking,” for instance—the brilliant clarity about what the right strategy should have been…once the game is over. Or “nay-saying”—the talent for identifying everything that’s wrong with someone else’s plan. Or coming up with a fantastic breakthrough…but waiting, and waiting and waiting to pursue it, until it just winds up in the bottom of some drawer.  

It’s not just having ideas, in other words, it’s acting on them that counts.

However much time and energy may be involved in bringing an idea to fruition, the real issue, in my view, is courage. You have to find the balance between being properly cautious and thorough in your preparations on the one hand…and, on the other, insisting on so much proof ahead of time that you never get to find out whether your idea might actually work. You have to accept that you might be seen as tilting at windmills, or biting off more than you chew. You might even turn out to be wrong!

But it’s the willingness to be a “closer,” as they say, that turns ideas into accomplishments. And it’s accomplishments that move things forward and make them better.