How many times have you thought of a neat idea only to forget it hours or days later? Our most innovative ideas are more likely to come to us when we are away from the office, thus, we are not necessarily in a position to act on them right away. Think of a way you can capture these ideas on-the-go, perhaps in a notepad application on your phone. When you are back in your workspace, collect these ideas in a document, spreadsheet, file, corkboard, or whatever method works for you. But write them out clearly and complete your thoughts—you might be holding on to them longer than just a few days and interpreting your own shorthand can get tricky after some time has passed! Not all ideas are viable in the short-term—perhaps we don’t have enough time today or enough money this quarter to act on them—but that doesn’t mean they won’t be valuable in a few weeks, months, or years. Don’t make these judgments about your ideas initially. Collect all ideas and evaluate the feasibility later.
2. Consider What is Required for Follow-Through
Ideas are pretty useless on their own. Before an idea can be implemented, it needs a strategy. Define what is within the scope of the idea as well as what lies outside of the boundaries. Consider both benefits and drawbacks. Lastly, sketch out a rough timeline of short-term targets and action items. This step is crucial. If you skip this step before proposing an idea, here are a few scenarios that might occur:
- Your boss points out a handful of drawbacks and asks how you’ll address them. You haven’t given it a thought, so you don’t have a good answer.
- Your boss says, “Great idea, make it happen!” You get started and along the way, stumble on an insurmountable roadblock. Now you must report back that you couldn’t get the job done.
- Your idea might be completely out of touch with your company’s current strategy and capabilities. Present an idea like this more than once, and soon enough nobody will take you seriously.
3. Consider Who Is Affected and How
Before proposing your idea, you must also think of its consequences. Most impactful ideas will involve other people or affect their work in some way. The most difficult part of change or innovation is getting other people on board. Think about who will be affected and consider how you may use influence tactics or change management best practicesto see your vision through.
4. Wait Until The Right Moment
Generally speaking, you don’t want to spew new ideas as they occur to you. Have you ever presented an idea in a brainstorming session that falls on deaf ears… only to have someone repeat a similar version of it 10 minutes later to applause? When you wait to present your idea at the right time in the right place in the right way, everyone understands it. Wait until that moment to increase your probability of success.