Any productive strategy starts with an idea and then blossoms with innovative thinking but needs more if it is to come to fruition. I was at work one day a few years back and it hit me. I had an idea that would improve a process and result in a more efficient workforce. In my mind the idea was genius. I immediately brought the idea to my manager’s attention, just to be told that it was a good idea, but it would never happen. My manager had a different view on where the company was heading and how they were going to get there. My idea was not part of the plan.
As I have grown in my career and taken on more responsibility, I look back and wonder if the result could have been different. My idea was in a completely raw state and I had taken zero time to refine it. I believed it to be good and rushed to tell a decision maker. If I could go back, I would have taken the time to improve upon my idea better by forming it into a targeted message that showcased an opportunity for improvement before presenting it to my manager. I have since learned that there a several key elements involved in improving an idea. For an idea to be its best, it must be unique, aligned, powerful, attainable, and valuable.
Ideas that are obvious to everyone do not get any traction. You need to be creative and form an idea that is unique. Unique ideas stand out in the minds of others and leave them wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Once you have an idea that is unique, formulate it to align with the organization. Most companies have a mission statement. I like to compare my idea to the organizations mission statement and see if it matches up with the company’s goals. If your idea can be linked to a core belief of the business, it will be perceived as something to be considered.
Ideas must be powerful and create an impact. If your idea can generate excitement, it will motivate the person listening to take action. Without impact, there will be no energy behind your idea and it will stall. Powerful ideas inspire others to get on board with your thoughts. People will more willing to open up to change if they are able to see the immediate or long term benefit from your idea.
Make sure that the idea you have is attainable. If what you propose is outside of your control, it is less likely to come to fruition. Choose an idea that converts to a specific activity within your control. Ask yourself if there are direct actions or steps that will lead to your idea being implemented.
The final element is value. In my mind, value is the most critical part of an idea. Valuable ideas lead to results. If your idea has the potential to increase the financial worth of the organization, it will become a priority. Anything that can increase profit, productivity or efficiency will immediately be on the radar of change.
The idea I had was a good one. It was within my control and would have added value to the company. However, I was not able to refine my idea and it did not create an impact with my manager. I gave up on my plan and my idea was never even considered as a process improvement. Going back in time, I would have handled my idea much differently. The knowledge and experience that I have gained would have led me down a different path. I would not have gone directly to my manager to be shot down. I would have slowed down and put more thought into my idea. If I could have clarified my thoughts before expressing them, I believe my idea would have been implemented, increasing the efficiency of team members while performing a daily task. This, ultimately, would have led to the company saving money and thus increasing profitability for the organization.