Ready for Action: 5 Steps You Can Take to
Bring Your Ideas to Life
by Keith Harmeyer & Mitchell Rigie, Partners, SmartStorming.com
If you’re like most people today, you’ve got ideas - and you want to bring your ideas to life!
We live in the era of ideas. Ideas are all around us, popping up and changing our lives every day – technology ideas, business ideas, political ideas, religious ideas, lifestyle ideas…
Ideas are the name of the game in today’s innovation-driven world.
But as American businessman and entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell once said, “Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.”
In an Accenture survey of Chief Executive magazine readers, two-thirds of the CEOs surveyed recognized innovation as a key factor necessary for success and competitive advantage.
Yet that same survey revealed that most companies are ultimately able to commercialize fewer than 20 percent of their best ideas. And just one in eight executives felt strongly that their companies excelled at implementing innovative ideas.
How is this possible? In a business environment focused so heavily on innovative ideas as a key measurement of success, why is there such an obvious disconnect between the generation of ideas and the ability to bring your ideas to life?
And this phenomenon doesn’t only occur at the organizational level; it applies to teams, as well. Think about it. How many times have you and your workgroup generated some great ideas—but those ideas were never carried forward?
A common complaint we hear about traditional group brainstorming is the lack of follow-through. Even when worthwhile ideas are generated, all too often they are quickly forgotten. Everyone leaves the room, never to hear of their great ideas again. In short, those good ideas wither on the vine.
While it is true that innovation is fueled by ideas, it is realized by action. Only by taking meaningful action around an idea can the idea ever become a reality. Seeds are worth nothing if they are not planted, fed, and watered. And even the most powerful and life-changing ideas are worth nothing if they are never executed.
Here is a simple, but effective method for determining and assigning next steps—before leaving an idea generation session. We call it The “5-A’s” Idea Implementation Process.
The 5-A’s Idea Implementation Process is an effective, top-line approach for ensuring that your ideas move forward in a positive and productive way, increasing the odds that they survive the journey from concept to new reality. This planner will help you clarify the five steps in the process: Act, Assess, Assign, Agree, and Activate.
When you and your team go through each step, in sequence, you will significantly increase the odds that you will actually bring your ideas to life.
Step 1—Act: Foster an Action-Oriented Attitude: Procrastination is a mindset; so is being proactive! By establishing and nurturing an environment where everyone values and demonstrates an action-oriented attitude, you’ll accomplish much more in less time. What can you do every day to ensure that your team is enthusiastic and motivated to take action? How can you more effectively inspire them?
Step 2—Assess: Size Up the Big Picture; Then Break It Down into Action Steps: Quickly determine what it’s going to take to bring your idea to life. What is the scope of the project in terms of time, complexity, and resources? What skills/capabilities are necessary? What adjustments need to be made to existing responsibilities and schedules to ensure the team has the time and attention necessary? What subprojects make up the overall project? Identify major milestones, then individual tasks. By getting a handle on what actually has to be done, you’ll be one step closer to doing it.
Step 3—Assign: Establish Specific Roles, Responsibilities, and Deliverables: Teams are made up of individuals, and ultimately it will be the work done by each participating member that will lead to successful outcomes. Who is the very best person to assign to each task, based on their talents, skills, and individual traits? How can you best support them in their work, with resources, scheduling, assistants, etc.?
Step 4—Agree: Create Team Alignment and Personal Accountability: It is critically important that everyone collaborating on any project be on the same page. Everyone needs to understand and accept responsibilities, expectations, due dates, and so on. What is the best way to quickly establish agreement about specific timelines and deliverables? How can you most effectively create a sense of accountability, where everyone accepts responsibility to do their tasks well and deliver them on time?
Step 5—Activate: Pull the Trigger; Make It Happen: This is the action part of the action steps – actually doing it. All-too-often we get caught up in the planning and evaluating stages and unnecessarily delay actually getting started. As someone once said, the best way to start is to start. What needs to happen to get the project started today? What is the first step that must take place, and who is going to do it, now?
Hopefully, you can see how taking these five simple (but often skipped) steps will help you and your team to quickly take action and bring your ideas to life.
And for large, complex projects, you simply repeat the process. Once you get to Step 5 and “pull the trigger,” you go back to Step 1 to keep motivation and activity high; then proceed to Step 2 and re-assess your progress and what comes next; go on to Step 3 to assign new tasks; etc.
Your best, most innovative ideas are worth nothing if they never see the light of day. You owe it to yourself, your team, your organization, and to your ideas, to do everything you can to turn your best thinking into real world realities.
As Pablo Picasso said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.”
Are you ready for action?
Excerpt from the book: SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas.
SmartStorming Partners Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer are experts in helping individuals, teams, and organizations achieve greater business success, by applying more innovative approaches to daily business processes. Their new eCourse, “SmartStormer Innovative Thinking and Idea Generation”, is a breakthrough program designed to help anyone tackle business challenges in more innovative and productive ways. Rigie and Harmeyer are authors, speakers, consultants and trainers, with a combined 50+ years of experience working in the fields of advertising and strategic marketing communications, persuasive presentation skills, and personal development. To learn more about their programs and keynotes, visit SmartStorming.com.