How to Ideate a Project

Chase Raz

Chase Raz

How to Ideate a Project

Walt Disney in front of a map of the Florida Project which became Walt Disney World.

I normally wouldn’t publish anything about the creation of my projects.  Mainly because my project ideation is almost always spontaneous and never meticulously planned like I’m doing for this so-called Disney Project.  Also, because I’m not really a fan of talking about things I’m going to do like I used to be as a kid and even into my early adulthood.  I’d rather just do something and then say, “Oh, by the way, I did such-and-such.”

For those of you joining from my “Business” category, just know that this post talks about a Disney-based content project I’m ideating, so don’t be thrown off when you observe mentions of theme parks and whatnot seemingly at random.

So how do we ideate what our business, project, or venture should be?  The answer isn’t simply found, unfortunately, but the journey can be pretty fun.  Yes, there are dozens or hundreds of worksheets and exercises you can find online or in mastermind groups, but they all pretty much boil down to the same process:  keep thinking and exploring and you’ll eventually build a path forward.  Just, do yourself a favor and kick the all-too-common notion that the path you come up with is fated or destiny

This fate feeling is an illusion created by the sense of satisfaction experience when you identify a path forward on an idea.  It’s an intrinsic motivator from what I would guess is a fairly primal source.  This feeling of fate does little in the modern world but cause people to work less on a project yet still feel entitled to more of a result.  

Been there, done that, it was such a waste of time that I don’t even want the t-shirt.

This project is worth me openly pontificating about because my process illustrates how to ideate upon a hunch rather than a solid spark of an idea.  Simply put, “I know there is something here to be done that can provide value, but I don’t know specifically what.  How do I come to the realization of what to do?”

Okay, we know the problem, so what’s my point?

I know that, moving forward, I don’t want to be responsible for talking about everything Disney, but I like the opportunities to be had (community, etc.) within that particular community.  The Disney-filled life of some of the YouTube vloggers and whatnot, however, make me cringe a bit when I think about even trying to become that myself.  I love what they do, I’m happy for them, and I think that their work is awesome fan-filled excellence, but that’s not me.

My interests and likes involving Disney or any given company, brand, or franchise are often particular, and I’m not willing to completely immerse myself in the story of one of these unless it’s mine, or unless I’m getting paid.  Cold?  No, I’m a business professional.  That’s my literal job.  Otherwise, I don’t sacrifice a neutral reality for a branded or themed one, whether that’s to be a “Disney” person or a “Google” or “Coca-Cola” person.   I don’t let brand preferences turn into an entire lifestyle except in small bursts for enjoyment.

What this translates into is that I don’t care to congratulate Disney on every new ride they open or movie they release.   I don’t want to read the news on Disney every single day.  I care more about two key areas: the general experiences that the company creates through theme parks, cruise ships, and travel excursions; and the inner workings of their pseudo-governmental Reedy Creek Improvement District.

So maybe you, my reader, don’t care about Disney one bit.  Maybe you’re a student or a client struggling with business ideation.  Maybe I’ve suggested reading this post as a way to help.  If so, let’s get to it!  What should you take away from all of this musing?

  1. Recognize.  Sensing that there is “something there” to be explored is a great first step.  You’re not expected to have any of the answers as soon as you get a hunch on an opportunity.
  2. Don’t rush yourself.  We make everything mission critical for some reason, and it shouldn’t be?  Starting a business and need to pay the bills?  Get a job to float you and provide time!  Need to diversify your business operations to achieve growth?  Cool, but let’s look at retooling your existing product or service line first.
  3. Explore the opportunities.  Seeing what others are doing can be a strange experience.  For some people it creates a sense of panicked urgency to catch up to the competition, for others it instills an anger that external entities are encroaching upon what you perceive to be your idea.  Whatever your response, get through it and take the time to know the competition, customers, and any other elements of the landscape.  Afterall, you’re part of the landscape, not separate or apart from it.
  4. Know your limits… all of them.  These can be technical limits, or just personal preferences.  Am I capable of blogging or vlogging about Disney all day every day?  Technically, yes.  I can write, produce videos, edit, publish… all that jazz!  But there is no way in hell that I would want to spend my entire worklife, even for a short period of time, volunteering to follow and report upon one company.  I don’t care how magical they are like Disney, or how rich like Berkshire Hathaway.  I don’t want to be a beat-reporter.  This is a limit just as much of a limit as not being able to do something.  Don’t force yourself down a path that you don’t like or that doesn’t feel right.  
  5. Analyze.  Don’t leave your feelings in charge like I discussed above.  They are the result of your brain’s processing, but they’re attuned to animalistic survival, not towards business operations.  The feeling that I don’t want to be a vlogger comes from my lack of success with my first podcast, Multinewmedia, where the daily grind of operating a 30-episode per year podcast for absolutely no pay wore me out and frustrated me because those along with me on the journey weren’t giving equal effort (I know it’d be hard for them to hear me say that, but it’s very true… and okay!).  If I rely on this feeling-based information alone, I’ll miss what we professional refer to as a “shit tonne” of opportunities.  In my example, YouTube and blogs could be an important part of my project, as long as I honor my preferred limits of not working on those things day-in and day-out, and not working to compete against those who do.

Again, more succinctly:

  1. Recognize
  2. Take your Time
  3. Explore the Landscape
  4. Identify Limits
  5. Analyze

Okay, so to conclude, I can finally get to the point for those of you reading for updates on my Disney Project more than my business chats:

I’ve decided that I want to deal with mainly static evergreen content.  I like the idea of everything from marketing materials to promotional posters and concept art, but I’m still exploring.  Additionally, after analyzing (deeply!) my lack of desire to be a typical Disney vlogger, I’ve come to the conclusion that my business acumen could help those who do feel like vlogging and blogging consistently on the topic.  I’m now free-form exploring (think: professional daydreaming) the opportunities that could surround that new found understanding.

I’ve discovered, much like with my podcasting, that opportunities exist to alter what it means to perform some action.  So, to be a “Disney vlogger”, would I need to do it full or even part time?  No.  Would I need to be on every week?  No.  At least, not if my business model and audience interaction model can support a less frequent need to be all up in everyone’s face online and constantly schlepping equipment through the theme parks which I’d rather just walk around and enjoy at this particular moment in my life.