Sunday, June 28, 2009

Please remain in your seats until we've come to a complete stop

You've probably noticed this in your own life, but when you have something you want to communicate, timing and environment are just as important as having a great message. You could have the greatest message, product, book, or idea your industry has ever seen, but if no one is listening, it's not going to go anywhere. If you have a vision of a great new technology that enables us to think directly into Word and never have to type at a keyboard--wonderful! But society and the world at large may not have any idea what to do with that idea for another 20 years or so. Or at least 10. And if you have that great idea, project, book, what-have-you but the only person you tell about it is your cat, you don't have the right environment for the idea to begin to put down roots and start to grow.

In an economy like this one (yes, they tell us its getting better), it is both prudent and vitally important to think through the timing and environment for the delivery of your message or product. As always, trying to balance vision with practicality is no easy task but very necessary. Full disclosure: I say this as a writer who has no less than eight finished, non-published books, a half dozen plays, and a gazillion poems living in Happy Land on her backup hard drive. :)

Here are a few questions you can use to gauge whether the time and place is right for your next project:
  • How does the project grow organically out of what you are already doing?
  • How is the project a natural extension of your strengths?
  • In what way does the project add something that your existing audience needs?
  • What do you see in the social, cultural, economic, or industry environment that leads you to believe there is a place for this project?
  • Who will buy this project and how does it connect for them with their perception of the current environment?
  • Does your project add something worthwhile to the world and contribute something positive--a new technique for getting things done, something to help people in their jobs, a way to offer more support, solve a problem, reduce a struggle? (This list could go on and on, obviously...)
  • How long will it take you to develop the project, and will the time still be right when you're done?
  • What resources are needed for you to develop the project, and is the time and environment right internally for you to use those resources now?

This list gives you an idea of the type of landscape into which you'll be pitching your project. Of course once you're clear on this part of the foundation, you need to begin thinking more seriously about the who.

One other thought--and this is a hard one for me--waiting is okay. Sometimes circumstances require us to take a deep breath and wait for the right time and environment in order to act. When this has happened for me, I've noticed that additional clarity and knowledge come to fill in the gaps--the wait time winds up being fruitful, enriching the final project when the time is right for it to be completed.

The moral? Love your project, believe in the good it will do, and listen and watch carefully for the right timing and environment for it to blossom. Yes, Life, I'm listening.

Have a great month!