Every day in the workplace, great ideas are ignored, forgotten, and scrapped. Essentially, they never get off the ground or they crash and burn just after takeoff. Why? Not because they weren’t excellent ideas, but because they are poorly planned and communicated, and thus, misunderstood and unsupported. So how can you get your ideas to take flight? Here is a five-step process that can make your ideas soar.
- Start with a Vision
No successful flight can happen without a clear destination. Getting an idea to take off requires the pilot to consider the benefits of what the idea will bring. It’s a well-known fact that people bring a lot more energy to their own ideas. A great idea, however, goes well beyond the initial excitement of its arrival and is much more effective when it is started (as Stephen Covey would say) with the destination in mind.
When creating the vision, it’s important to ask:
"What are the benefits of this idea for those who will be along for the flight?"
"Who will help get it off the ground?"
"Who may want to keep the idea grounded, and why?"
Considering this ahead of time gives the next step in the flight plan a greater chance for success.
- Get Support
How high your idea will soar is dependent on what type of support is received from the control tower. Gaining support from influencers that are higher up in the company’s hierarchy lends credibility and power to the idea. Any skilledpilot also considers who may not be on board, and works to make all fellow passengers comfortable before officially announcing the concept on a broader scale. Clear, thoughtful communication is the key. Asking questions like, "If I made a change that alleviates your concerns, can I count on your support when I announce and try to implement this idea?" establishes trust and can turn skeptics into allies.
- Write the Plan
Getting an idea flight plan in writing ensures accountability and can keep the idea on course. Consider the goal, scope, budget, means of communication, and how to measure the results of the plan. Then build in tasks and milestones along the way so your idea will have the best chance to reach its destination.
- Negotiate the Change
Just as with a flight plan, you may need to make adjustments to your idea along the way. Turbulence, whether in the sky or in the workplace, can make any flight a bumpy ride. Be ready to adjust to unexpected issues, and negotiate how to overcome them. At this point, the idea has taken off, but skillful piloting will ensure that the idea can land safely at its goal.
- Evaluate the Outcomes
Finally, once the idea has safely touched down, it is important to evaluate the journey. Whether others will be willing to ride with you on future flights of ideation will depend on how well things went. Be sure to consider what could have been done even better so that the next time an idea takes off, the flight will be even more successful.
Taking care to put together this five-step process will better the chances that the ideas you wish to launch fly to great heights and land successfully on the other side.
Source: Andrew C. Marris, Learning and Development Manager, MRA - The Management Association