Getting your ideas implemented – Part 2 by Rikus Grobler of Namibia Innovation Solutions
Last week and this week’s installment look at strategies employees can follow to increase the chances of their innovative ideas getting selected and implemented by their employers.
In the previous delivery I discussed the approach concerning organisations which have a formal process for idea submission, evaluation, selection and implementation. But the reality with many companies and other organisations is that they do not necessarily have a formal process to select, refine and implement innovative ideas. For an employee to get through the maze in these organisations, he or she needs to take note of both the political and the social cultures in their organisations. Sticking to formalities will not accomplish the intended goal.
Getting ideas selected and implemented in any organisation is a topic I am very passionate about. I have read many articles and studies on the topic and it is also the focus of the research I have recently concluded. By far one of the most perceptive articles on this topic was written by Glenn Llopis, and I am sharing – with his permission – some of his insights here.
I mentioned previously that getting an idea implemented is extremely difficult. With some innovations (mostly incremental improvements in your own area or workspace) it is possible to effect it on your own, but in the organisational context, most ideas will require the support and assistance of others, and your idea will have to compete with other ideas for resources to execute the idea.
Llopis’ article mentions twelve things you must actively do to convert ideas into reality. I don’t have the space to cover all twelve, so I will only elaborate on those which I view as the most important.
1. Believe in Yourself. You can’t take action until you believe in yourself enough to handle the consequences of your decisions. Any time you assume the responsibility to give something that had not existed before an opportunity to become a reality – you become accountable for your actions.
Most people fail to take an idea to fruition because the unexpected challenges become more than they think they can handle and thus they no longer want to be accountable. They lose the belief in themselves to see things through all the way to the end.
2. Learn How to Sell Your Vision. Converting your idea to an organisational reality requires you to help others understand your vision. Selling vision is much like selling change. Clearly define your value proposition and how it can generate value. Selling grand ideas without understanding how it will achieve value (e.g. financial results) will never get you the right audience. The bottom line is what gets everyone’s attention.
Simplicity is the key to selling the vision for your idea. Making it easy for someone on the “outside” to understand what you are trying to accomplish will create engagement and increase your probability of expanding buy-in for your idea. Learn how to sell your vision and prepare by piecing it together and refining your message.
3. Be Purposeful. Your intentions for your idea must have purpose and meaning. If not, the probability that you will quit along the way will increase. It will also increase the likelihood of you finding excuses not to proceed with your idea.
4. Focus on Building Momentum. Carefully identify all of your resources and build upon them via relationships, networking and sharing of resources to expand the opportunity for your ideas.
Building momentum is critically important to convert your idea into reality. Stay focused, stick to your plan, eliminate distractions and neutralize the noise. Building momentum has a lot to do with timing and the management and deployment of resources. Every resource counts. Know when and when not to use them so their value is optimally utilized at the right place and time.
5. Always Make the Idea Better. Never grow complacent. You can always expand upon your idea and make it better. When you begin to see how the dots connect, challenge yourself and your stakeholders to make your idea even better.
Next time I want to look at the situation from the other side, e.g. how to deal with ideas coming your way, and how to give feedback in such a manner that you don’t crush the contributor’s enthusiasm. To call it by name…how to reject bad ideas gracefully.
I conclude with a quote from Muriel Siebert: “You create opportunities by performing, not complaining.”
Llopis, G. 2013. The 12 Things That Successfully Convert a Great Idea Into a Reality. Online: http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/01/.