We are our own guinea pigs. As you might expect from a group of designers, writers, and entrepreneurs, the Behance team has a lot of ideas. We suffer from the very frustrations and shortfalls that we try to solve in the creative community.When we brainstorm, the ideas and to-do’s that come up are likely to disappear unless they are captured as action steps. When we take notes, the notes are often useless after 24 hours. When we have creative but off-topic ideas that we may want to come back to someday, these ideas are often lost unless they are kept in some sort of “backburner.” The Action Method was created to address these challenges, among others.
The year of 2006 was spent trying to practice what we preach. We held each other painstakingly accountable: if one of us had an idea for a new page design or article topic, an action step was recorded, deadlines were set, and the group waited in sweet anticipation.
Inadvertently, we developed a few of our own devices to help keep us on track. One of our big wins was the Action Pad, an actualization of the theory we were working with around CAPTURING ACTION STEPS, TRACKING BACKBURNER ITEMS, and FILING REFERENCE ITEMS. After extensive testing and focus groups, the Action Method is now used by a group of early adopters in the design, film, music, and technology industries. You’re welcome to download the template (for free) or purchase some products based on the method at the Outfitter. Or, maybe you’ll create your own system based on the Action Method!
The Action Method helped us identify some of our inefficiencies, and prompted some helpful solutions:
(1) Notes are seldom helpful.
Could the world be wrong? While notes provide helpful reference, we seldom (if ever) referred back to them. We found that action steps were 95% of the battle. The lesson: We take notes sparingly! When we take notes, we now tag them with a keyword and file them in a readily accessible place (see: References are Overrated).
(2) Meetings that end without action steps are a waste of our time.
When our Action Pads contain no action steps after a meeting, we realize that the meeting should have been a voice-mail or email. The lesson: Only call a meeting when you suspect that actions will come out of it.
(3) Sometimes a team captures only half the action steps that are discussed.
We would discuss a great idea, identify action steps, move on to another subject, and some actions steps would ultimately disappear. We started a little ritual to not let action steps slip: After each meeting, we go around and quickly run through our action steps. There is almost always an action step we catch that was not captured on someone’s list.