Got an idea?

Do you have a good idea? It needs to be more than workable, practical and cost effective. Here’s a three-stage process for seeing your idea come to fruition.

Step 1: Think it through. What specific outcomes can your idea bring about? Who stands to benefit and who to lose from your idea, both upstream sand downstream? Who does your idea need to help set it in motion, support it in its implementation stages, and make it work?

Once you’ve explored your idea from various perspectives, you may want to run it by a few people you trust. What are their thoughts?

Step 2: Lay the groundwork. Here is where you cannily build a coalition of supporters. Chat your idea through with them and build in their thoughts and ideas. ‘My idea’ is rapidly becoming ‘our idea’, which is what you want. The more widely supported your idea is, the harder it becomes to reject, particularly when the supporters are the decision-makers’ peers, people they like and respect, people with authority and people with expertise.

When you talk about your idea, present the business benefits. Equally important, describe how the idea benefits the person whose support you’re seeking and ideas and insights you’re looking to incorporate. And talk about how the people most affected by your idea benefit. (No one is really interested in how you benefit, so sit on that one.)

Step 3: Present your idea to the decision maker(s). Present facts and numbers, yes, and remember that people support ideas for emotional and intuitive reasons as much as for logical and rational reasons. Subtly point out how your idea supports what they’re most interested in. And link those benefits and the idea itself to what the decision makers have previously said and done and agreed to, because people want to be consistent.

And don’t forget — it’s now ‘our idea’, the ‘our’ being the influential key players you’ve run your idea by and whose thoughts you’ve incorporated. Mention their names in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due.

As you’re explaining what your idea can do for the organisation and for the decision makers, watch their body language and look for other clues to gauge how they’re receiving your idea. You may need to make adjustments as you go along.

Be ready to explain the next steps, what needs to happen to implement your idea, and what you can do to keep it in place once it’s up and running. If the ‘Let’s wait and see’ horse rears up, be ready to explain the cost of waiting, too.