The worst chokepoint in an idea pipeline is the decision-making stage. Few companies have designed a specific process to make it easy and fast to approve good ideas. And when it comes to implementing change, studies confirm that what is promised is not delivered! Track and hold people accountable to their promises. Also, stop the obsessive emphasis on developing a few big, transformational, sexy, multiyear, multimillion-dollar, strategic-imperative projects. Instead, start focusing on harvesting large numbers of good ideas. These projects usually deliver as promised — or even a little better.
The Three Essential Parts of a GOOD Idea. They deliver hard-dollar financial benefits, net of any investments. They deliver benefits that clearly outweigh any risks (typically because there is little or no risk). They have the consensus of all relevant areas of the company that the idea should be approved. GOOD ideas are those for which facts are available, and those facts are used to build consensus.
The Miracle of Deadlines. Short deadlines squeeze out procrastination time. Establish an aggressive date for a decision as one of the early steps in developing the idea. A date creates a deadline that prevents ideas from dying a slow death.
For Big Results, Focus on Small Ideas. Small ideas are usually a lot easier to implement on time and on budget than large ideas. A focus on creating big, transformational plans distracts from the far more rewarding effort of finding many smaller ideas.
Fight the War With the Army You Have, Not the One You Want. Employees will develop ideas within their current skills and strengths. Focus on the great ideas that play to your strengths before worrying about the ideas that play to your weaknesses!
Add to Your Army Only When Necessary. Sometimes you need to implement ideas that take skills that you don’t have. Or sometimes the payoff is big enough to warrant buying new skills.
Create an “Idea” Flight Plan that Coordinates Implementation. Create a master plan for the company whereby all of the different initiatives are coordinated so that the overall plan delivers the highest earnings with the least disruption. The plan becomes the promise that everyone is on board to deliver it.
Make Sure the Buy-In Is Built In. Those who plan the battle rarely battle the plan: Engage employees closest to the work and closest to the customer to develop ideas. It is natural human behavior that we must invest our own effort to feel ownership and pride