Thoughts on getting people to rallying around an idea...

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.


I propose we do this...

I will go out on a limb and say that it is very rare that the first idea, first prototype, first draft, or the first of "anything" is also the last — in fact, I will be so bold to say it never happens.


The first of anything will be challenged, torn down and rebuilt, built upon to the point of being unrecognizable, or spur on something else that makes it irrelevant. It can be an uncomfortable process to be sure; both practically and emotionally. My favourite saying to illustrate this is, "Everyone who is first through the wall gets bloody; everyone", and metaphorically speaking the more different your "proposal" is from the norm, the bloodier you will get. And crazier still, it is the only way to progress in anything. 

At the very least it is a reminder that if you aren't uncomfortable you are not moving in the right direction, as well as highlighting the truism that you need to "be comfortable with being uncomfortable". Both very important reminders, but even more importantly, it is a reminder that someone needs to step up and say, "I propose we do this" — be it a new idea, a new way of thinking, or simply a first draft of the thinking around the table. Progress needs a starting point; it needs a champion. A case in point is a presentation for a strategic plan I worked on which had 27 versions in the end — not because the first version was fundamentally wrong, but because we needed a started point to challenge what we had, try to break our thinking, and initiate an iterative process of improvement.  

Anything new needs a Champion to move it forward, protect it, and foster it, as well as work through the natural challenges and pushback that come your way — not always something for the faint of heart, which I suppose, is why they call them Champions.


The messaging of an idea... working with feedback — PART 5

I thought I would stay with the theme of feedback a little longer for a couple of reasons — I received some "solid feedback" on my last blog, and more importantly, the topic of feedback is so important for an idea to flourish and develop, and that of course supports the evolution of the messaging for said idea.

Feedback will impact the idea, the message, and the messenger. 

feedback 2.jpeg

I think I will begin with the "messenger" because more often than not it's her idea or at least she has drank the "Kool-Aid", and I want to kick this off with some feedback I received at an annual performance review a long time ago — "Graham," the person said, "You get very defensive when you are given feedback". To that, I got defensive. 

I have come along way since then, and although I'm not perfect, I believe I have developed a valid perspective on receiving feedback as the messenger:

  • When receiving feedback check your ego at the door and listen to it.
  • Do not categorize feedback as good or bad, or right or wrong, or relevant or non-relevant — again just listen to it and capture it for later.
  • We are still human and sometimes the first two points are difficult, so let some time pass before you constructively review the feedback.
  • You should never dismiss any feedback until you have constructively reviewed it.
  • When you are ready to constructively review the feedback revisit the goals, objectives, and strategies of your idea, your message, and your messaging — this ensures alignment and helps measure validity, efficacy, and relevance of the feedback.
  • Not all feedback is created equal — not only because of its relevance but also because of where it is coming from. This is the reason we search out domain experts and experience.
  • It is very dangerous not to accept feedback because it doesn't align with your current thinking.
  • If you keep getting similar feedback from credible sources there is a very high probability they are right, and you, maybe not so much.

With regard to the idea and the message, well that's simple... just adopt the feedback to make your idea and the messaging better. And if you don't, then you are either not finding the right feedback to develop your idea, or you just aren't willing to accept it — either way, your idea is destined to never go a far as you would like (if anywhere at all).

And regarding the feedback on that presentation in my last blog, I reviewed it with the Principal of Takota Asset Management using the same lens as above, and he's incorporated the feedback into future videos where the alignment makes sense with his strategy, objectives, and resources. 


The feedback (and the process) was greatly appreciated I was told,