I am regularly amazed at how quickly the most 'corporate' of companies, never mind us wheeling, unstructured entrepreneurial companies, can get sucked off track and into the black hole vortex of wasting time by a simple 5 word phrase uttered in a meeting " I've got a great idea! "
As entrepreneurs, we are genetically programmed to develop and test new ideas and to keep looking for the latest bright shiny object. It's actually a disease and we can not help it.
However, over the years, I've found that some of my best 'hot' new ideas were better, even great, if I left them alone for a while and let them marinate.
I'm not suggesting in any way that you stifle the creativity and idea generation of you or your team members, in fact that's how most small businesses discover new markets or create spin off businesses. An idea put before a work group, idea team or mastermind group grows and innovations are born.
However, to keep your production meetings on track as well as your own productivity, I would suggest that you institute a four step funnel or channel for the submission of new ideas.
First, all 'great ideas' should be written down IMMEDIATELY upon entering your brain. If you do not there is a very good chance it will disappear just as quickly as it arrived.
Second, let the idea sit relatively undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Add information to the file but do not spend any real time doing anything with it.
Third, get it out in the open for a formal discussion. In preparation for the presentation meeting do some basic research and be prepared to present preliminary information answering these questions in 15 minutes or less:
- Idea overview
- Is this a new product or service or is it a cost saving idea?
- What will it do or save us?
- What's the idea conservatively worth to us?
- Who will buy it if a product, and who's the competition?
- Who will be affected if it's a cost savings measure?
Based on the size of your business, if you regularly have team meetings, leave time on the agenda each meeting for the discussion of 1-2 new ideas.
If you're not that big, schedule time with a partner, advisor, coach, or mastermind group who can help you develop, modify or potentially kill it by playing devil's advocate. Important tip: Even if the idea is not right for the present time, keep the file and your notes. I can not tell you how many times an old idea becomes a timely a couple of months or year's later.
Go through the first three steps of this process BEFORE you spend any money on it. By forcing the person generating the idea to follow this schedule and format, ideas will flow to you in a way that you can easily see the merit or not and then if the idea does have merit you can move on to the final step.
Forth, assign people or schedule time, to further develop the idea and test it. Make sure that updates on progress are scheduled as agenda items at subsequent meetings. This holds people accountable for their idea and their time and does not let a great idea get lost.
Once a good idea becomes a great idea … implement with speed and decisiveness.