Now, let's look at what the other colors have to offer in bringing an idea all the way through to execution...
WHITE: Big Picture
This is where a formless idea starts to gain shape and structure. White is about refinement; where we start to think about how all the pieces fit together, and where priorities start to emerge. This is where we say: "Ok, well, if we were to create this, here are big things that would have to happen, and this is where we should start."
For the example of starting a business, you'll need a place (or platform) from which to work, sales and marketing strategies, customer acquisition and service, legal and financial structures -- not to mention a service or product! These are all still concepts, but they are taking shape and form in relation to each other, so that the idea is refined and priorities are established.
As the idea goes around the circle, from Red to White to Blue, details start to emerge. Blue is where things get more specific, and we go from big picture concepts to concrete steps that need to be taken. Concrete steps sound like: "This is what we'll need to purchase, these are the people we'll need to talk to, these are the tasks that need to get done."
Blue is all about taking the Big Picture and breaking it down into the million little steps it will take to actually GET from here to there. Then, after the planning is done...
This is where the idea gets manifested "on the ground" -- things are built, sales calls made, orders handled, tasks checked off -- to bring things full circle.
Yellow is NOT interested in strategy or priorities or questioning why this needs to get done before that. Yellow is only interested in going down the list and Getting. Shit. Done.
At the same time, because Yellow is the one implementing everyone else's work, it gets unique insight into what works and what doesn't. Which is what allows Yellow to flow into Red with observations about "how to build a better mousetrap" -- which starts the process over again.
As you read the descriptions above, consider that YOU are entirely capable of performing all these roles alone, as an individual, in order to create something from your ideas.
The question is: Is this the BEST use of your energy?
While we CAN play all 4 roles if we have to (and probably have worked extra hard to do so in the past), the nature of our unique strengths and worldview make it highly likely that we tend to operate best inside of just ONE.
The idea is that if you can identify which part of the cycle you naturally gravitate toward, then you are much better equipped to surround yourself with people whose strengths complement your own; those for whom what YOU find challenging is actually easy and even rewarding.
For example, can you think of someone who is BURSTING with creative ideas, who easily sees connections that others miss -- but who, when it comes to actually getting things done, tends to be scattered and all over the place? (Red; needs Blue.)
What about someone who is BRILLIANT at sketching out the big picture so others can really see what's going on and how it all fits together; but who has little patience for details, and would rather delegate tasks than "get their hands dirty"? (White; needs Yellow.)
Or perhaps you know someone who is GREAT at taking a project and breaking it down into its component parts, expertly laying out a step-by-step plan for how to make it happen -- but would far prefer to do this for someone else's idea, rather than have to come up with the idea itself? (Blue; needs Red.)
Or maybe you know someone who has ZERO patience for conceptual thinking -- but gets huge satisfaction out of going through a list of tasks, so they can execute, execute, execute. Just point them in the right direction (help them prioritize), and then get out of their way. (Yellow; needs White.)
The point is that we're not MEANT to do it all alone -- we're meant to find our place in the creative process, and fill the other places with the right collaborators.
This can be an extremely liberating realization.
For example, maybe you've been criticized in the past for not executing on your ideas, and this caused you to build a story around how you "can never seem to get things done."
But if you're a Red, maybe you're not MEANT to spend your precious energy on details! You're not deficient; you just need to find someone who thrives on execution. What you need is a Yellow!
By now you probably have an inkling of which quadrant you fall into. It helps to remember that it's typically the quadrant opposite (diagonal) to yours that tends to feel the most like drudgery.
For example, as a White, I can't stand to be given a list of meaningless tasks that, in my view, a monkey (or a robot) could do. To me, the definition of mind-numbing work is data entry. So I may feel guilty about delegating this kind of work to a teammate, thinking I am giving her the worst work imaginable -- but if that teammate actually gets PLEASURE from being task-oriented and checking off those boxes, then I don't have to feel guilty because all parties win!
So one way to determine your quadrant is to ask yourself:
What is YOUR definition of mind-numbing work?
Then locate your quadrant in opposition to that.
If you need more clues to place yourself, here are a few:
LEFT (Red and Yellow): Non-structured, non-linear thinking. Reds and Yellows see everything on the same level, which makes prioritizing and timelines difficult.
RIGHT (White and Blue): Structured, linear thinking. Can easily identify layers and levels and finer distinctions that are needed to create priorities.
TOP (Red and White): Big-picture-oriented. See the wholeness of things, top-down perspective, everything interrelates and connects at a high level.
BOTTOM (Blue and Yellow): Detail-oriented, bottom-up perspective.
In case it needs to be said, people are fluid and so are these distinctions.
We're never just ONE thing, and this framework is no exception. But it's worth asking, the next time you're hiring, not only where you are strongest and where you are weakest, but also:
What kinds of questions should I be asking, in order to screen NOT for people I like, but for the rightpeople?
Finally, it's a tough thing to admit when you're not the best person for the job. But it's important to remember that it's not that you CAN'T perform other roles; it's just MORE WORK for you, than it will be for someone else.
And why create more work for yourself than you've already got?