The death of a good idea!

I feel that the best part of being part of a team is working really hard to craft the perfect idea. Having a good idea to solve the "big" problem can be a stressful task. Finding the right vision for your organization to take it to the next level is hard work, but what is even harder work is getting that vision to mean something! Unfortunately, many of us have been indoctrinated by some kind of vision book saying all we have to do is find the right vision statement and a group of people to follow it, and we are set to go. If it was only that easy. Writing down the right ideas on a piece of paper is the easy part, getting your vision off the drawing board and into production is the hard part.

Implementation kills most good ideas! I have sat in many brainstorming meetings, in many different kinds of organizations, and heard the formation of a lot of great ideas. But the one thing that is constantly true with all these ideas, is that most of them die on the whiteboard. It is sad. Sometimes there is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears wrapped up into seeing these ideas come to reality. But when it comes to taking these good ideas and making them reality, the implementation stage is where most people have trouble.

A while back, I was asked to look over an idea about taking volunteers through steps in development. It was an awesome idea of helping volunteers to get hands on training and provide leadership structure within the organization. But there was a problem- it wasn't being used in the organization. It wasn't because of lack of planning. They formed a team who spent a whole year strategically planning out this idea. The plan was solid, I should know, I read all of the 150 pages of the plan! It wasn't because of the lack of involvement, their one main team used several other teams, other organizations for advice, and numerous focus groups within the organization. Their hiccup wasn't resources, poor leadership, or even lack of higher management support. It all had to do with not understanding basic principles of implementation that I like to call, "The Laws of Implementation."

The Laws of Implementation:

Here are the simple principles to get your ideas off the white boards and into real life application.

Ideas have a short shelf life. Once you are done with the creation stage of vision, the clock is counting down until the idea will die. Time tends to deplete momentum and momentum is fuel the for ideas. Don't let ideas die by allowing too much time to go by before trying to implement it.

It takes more than a administrator. I often hear people explain that the reason their ideas didn't get off the ground was because they didn't have an administrator to push through all the details. Administrators are great, and you will need them on the team for implementation. Paying attention to details are important but it isn't the key component in implementing ideas, a lot of administrators aren't Change Agents.

Find a Change Agent. A Change Agent is someone who can pull everything together. Change Agents use their leadership skills to cast vision, build teams, and most importantly, trouble shoot around problems. Change Agents by nature are entrepreneurs, self starters, and highly strategic. They can be great sales people because they often need to sell the ideas before they can start them. Find a good change agent to lead your implementation team!

State the win. No one likes playing the game unless they know what it takes to win it. I have found that the number one reason why ideas don't start up is because no one knows what it will look like if the vision is working.Wins are measurable, tangible, and give clear completion indicators. Without clear completion indicators, people will start to guess what a win looks like, and then their vision starts getting diluted. If you paint the picture on what the idea will look like when it is working right, more people will want to play the game!

Create a working model. It used to be that most architects would build a scaled model from their blueprints. It was a great way of taking the 2 dimensional idea off the blueprints and creating a 3 dimensional model that people can see first hand. Models helps people envision the ideas of architects without building the entire house! This gives people a chance to change the things that don't look right or that didn't work as well as they envisioned before they spend a lot of resources on the whole project. The same principle can be applied to implementing your ideas by starting a working model. Instead of trying to implement your idea across the entire organization, start on a smaller scale with maybe a department or program. This will help your staff see how the idea works first hand so they can completely understand the vision!

Of course these principles aren't the only things you need to implement your good ideas, but it is a great place to start. Coming up with good ideas is a lot fun but hard work to get going. Hopefully this helps! Enjoy and remember to do only what you love!