I almost wrote that the only time we aren’t generating ideas is when we are sleeping; I then smiled with the recognition that we dream. Although I have absolutely no research to back it up, I am going to throw it out there that we give rise to ideas all the time — 24/7.
Many of these ideas go nowhere because they’re unrealistic, they’re forgotten, or have no real commitment to make them happen. But there are also many ideas that just need some support to make them become a reality — and some ideas will need a number of people to be involved. These people will either support your idea, won’t stand in its way, or help with the heavy lifting.
Since it seems I’m always trying to help push an idea forward or watching people do the same, I thought I would offer some thoughts on rallying people around an idea to move it forward. For right or wrong, I’ve come up with five considerations.
The Articulation of your Idea — The idea that is in your head needs to be put in to words so it can be shared with others, and although obvious, isn’t always easy. To start with, the idea needs to be a solution to a problem and articulated as such; there is nothing worse than having someone suggest your idea “seems to be a solution searching for a problem” — if this happens, either it’s truly a bad idea or you haven’t articulated your idea’s value well enough. In my experience it’s important to get your idea down in writing and wordsmith the language to articulate the idea, the situation, the problem it solves for, the benefits it offers, who will be interested, and the opportunity. This language then needs to find its way into a thirty second elevator speech, a one page brief, a formal presentation, video, podcast, and frankly any other format that may be needed to help share your idea.
Your audience — I suppose it would be fair to say your audience is everyone because you never know who someone knows, but you will want your message aligned to the audience. Your audience will fall into five categories —
People whose support you need (approval, financial, cheerleading)
People who will help you make the idea a reality
People who don’t care
Detractors of your idea
People who may stand in the way of making your idea a reality.
It may seem the last two groups are the same but I would suggest there’s a subtle difference as a detractor simply thinks it’s a bad idea whereas someone standing in the way may be doing it for no other reason then they don’t know what is happening and want to be part of the discussion.
Frequency of sharing your idea — Share as often as you can. This of course will be situational and needs to be in alignment with the audience, the situation, and how you are articulating you idea. People will respect your passion but context is everything.
Feedback and adjustment — With all this communication it will be important to stop and listen to what is being said by others. The belief in your idea (and the passion that surrounds it) will make you somewhat deaf to what others say, and it is important to fight through this. You will search out very smart and knowledgeable people (or should be), and it would be silly not to listen to them.
Action — Nothing gets people involved more than seeing something happening. It is important to make your idea alive in a tangible way, even if it’s baby steps to the final goal. It may be hard for people to grasp an idea, but they can literally grasp a “prototype”. Do something more than just talking about it.
And one more thing… Don’t ever give up, unless of course it’s a bad idea.