Five Phases of Bringing Ideas to Life
This post covers some general advice for working through and rolling out new ideas or initiatives across your team or multiple teams.
Phase 1: Start with the Problem
Good ideas come and go but problems don’t change until they are addressed. Here are some great questions to ask yourself. Have the answers ready for the next section on selling your idea:
- What is the problem your idea solves? Is it a real problem, or a perceived problem?
- Are there already processes or systems in place to solve this problem?
- Is anyone else already working on this problem?
- How will we know when the problem is solved? How do we measure success?
If you still think your idea holds strong as a solution or replacement to a solution, then you should have a list of strong reasons and arguments that will help you persuade others of the same.
Phase 2: Sell sell sell
Buy-in is important. Surprising everyone with your idea or change in a large meeting is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. Insead let the idea sit with key stakeholders and get feedback on all the ways it could fail, not work, or is simply a bad idea. Meeting 1:1 is best. Embrace negativity with open arms as challenges to solve on the way to fulfilling your purpose (see above).
Here are some questions to pose when talking to others:
- Do you agree that the problem this solves is important and that this is the best way to solve it?
- Do you have any advice or modifications to how this would work?
- Has anything like this been done in the past? How did it go?
- Who else do you think would be good to run this past?
Phase 3: Refine
Now that you’ve received a ton of feedback its time to start thinking about all the practical details of execution of the idea. Here are some points to document:
- Problem statement
- General Solution
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Step by Step Getting Started Guide
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Further Research / Reading
Phase 4: Give it some time, then present
Big changes don’t happen overnight. People often need a couple days to digest the idea and get back to you with real feedback. This also gives time for your idea to percolate through the grapevine and through 1:1’s with others on the team. The more trickle down exposure the idea gets, the less resistance you’ll see when presenting.
After several days with no major feedback you’re ready to present the idea to a wider audience. At this point all key stakeholders should generally be on board. Present the idea with the purpose / problem statement first. The reason will be the best motivator throughout the lifetime of the idea.
Phase 5: Action!
Now that everyone is aware and bought into your idea you need to give very specific and clear expectations for each person involved. Followup frequently, especially if things are going differently than planned. You will encounter issues at this point, address them as they arise, reiterate the purpose, and pivot if you have to.
This is my reflection on how to achieve big impact. It is in itself a big idea. Please leave notes below or fork this post for yourself so we can continue to refine. Over time you’ll begin to love your harshest critics as they are best at helping reject and refine your ideas.