The team faced a significant challenge on the project. After a very successful brainstorming session they felt they had several ideas that would address and alleviate the problems they faced. They were truly energized by some of the ideas they generated. But soon, the glow wore off, because these ideas, in order to help, needed to be implemented, and the project was already behind schedule.
Dawn was a person you could always count on to get things done. So it won’t surprise you to know that her manager went to her often with a new idea, a new project, or a challenge to overcome. The list of ideas on her plate was overwhelming, even though she did get more accomplished than most people.
Aaron was one of those guys who were always coming up with a new idea. If you needed help brainstorming, everyone knew to call Aaron. Unfortunately for Aaron too often after the fun of generating ideas was gone, the list of ideas to implement was daunting.
Perhaps it was one of these situations that lead to someone raising a question in a recent workshop; “Kevin, how do I learn to turn ideas into action steps?”
As a person who has helped individuals and groups work on their creativity this wasn’t initially a question I was expecting. Typically people are looking for ways to come up with more, and therefore better, ideas. Immediately though I knew that this was an equally valuable and important question.
After reflecting on the question I have identified 6 actions you can take to help you implement the great ideas that you have created or are given.
The Six “Gets”
Get Aligned. Whether you are an individual or a part of an organization, there are goals and objectives in front of you. What are the most important things that you are trying to accomplish? Having a good idea isn’t enough. The idea must also be relevant and important to your goals. Ideas that don’t pass this first test should be set aside for later (or never).
Get Clarified. Ideas in their infancy are fun and exciting, but they are seldom complete or crystal clear. Before taking action on your ideas, make sure you truly understand what is meant by and involved in the idea and what results you expect. This step is especially important for ideas that will be implemented by a group, as not everyone will have the same clear picture of the idea until it is clarified.
Get Organized. If your idea has passed the first two tests, it is time to plan. Figure out the implementation steps. Think about the timeline. Put this idea into the larger scope of your efforts. Time spent in planning and organizing will always pay dividends.
Get Help. You may not be able to turn your idea into reality by yourself. Your planning should help you see where you might need other experience, insight or another pair of hands. This is true for teams as well. Think about what resources you will need and work on lining them up early on. When you do these things your idea will become real much more quickly.
Get Focused. Once you have decided which idea(s) to implement and have a plan, you have to make the time to make it happen! Getting focused means creating the space and time to turn the idea into reality. It has to move from the idea stage into action. Focus your energy on making that happen.
Get Over Them. You may have an idea (or many) that you love. Remember that there is a big difference between a good idea and the right idea. You may have many good ideas on your list. For some of them the time isn’t right. Some of them don’t aren’t important enough. Some won’t be completely aligned with your goals and objectives. That is ok. In order to implement our best ideas sometimes we must be willing to let go of, or at least defer some others. When you are willing to do this you improve your chances of implementing the others you have chosen.
Any one of these suggestions above will be helpful, but when you take them together they will help you as an individual with your own ideas and priorities; as a leader in sharing and prioritizing ideas; and as a team to decide what to work on and who should be involved.
In the end, as important as creativity and idea creation is, it requires action before any idea will have real value. These six ideas can help you take that all important next step on your ideas.