How many times have you heard someone say “right idea!” when there is an execution blip that nullifies success and an otherwise brilliant notion bites the dust.
You hear it in kids’ sports all the time, particularly soccer, where a plan to pass the ball to a mate is intercepted by an opposition player. The right intent was there but execution fell short of an awesome outcome. “Right idea!” is intended to support the right behaviour and encourage the player to try it again and again until it works.
But it’s deflating. You can see they have a picture in their mind of what the result should be, but it’s shattered when it doesn’t play out the way it was envisioned.
The situation has a parallel both in organizational and personal life.
Organizations have a “Right idea!” when they develop their strategic game plan; individuals have a “Right idea!” when they plot their career or life destination.
Right ideas are plentiful
There is no shortage of right ideas; organizations come up with plans to grow their business and individuals always have ideas — or dreams — to build a better life or take their career to a higher level.
The thing is, the percentage of right ideas that make it through the successful implementation funnel are few and far between — for example half of startups fail in the first 5 years and it’s not an exceptional occurrence when careers fall short of expectations.
The failure to execute on a “Right idea!” is beyond disappointing, it hurts.
In my experience people just don’t spend enough time determining exactly what has to be done to bring the right idea to life. The idea may be borne in an instant but more time is required on what to do with it to see it to a successful conclusion.
If you can’t implement, you’re done — end of your story.
These four essentials will increase the odds your “Right idea!” crossing the finish line.
Double down on implementation
Be prepared to dive deep on determining how to execute your idea. Unfortunately the idea has no life on its own; it’s a figment of the imagination; a mere possibility. It needs to be transformed into something practical before it has any value.
The idea to prevent a driver of a vehicle from using their mobile device while driving is an easily understood solution to the distracted driving problem, but unless it can be delivered to the market it remains on the entrepreneur’s wish list. The idea emerged 24 months ago in an insightful moment; implementation is 2 years in and counting. And a career goal to be a VP without a disciplined strategy to get there is a dream with a low probability of success.
Focus on ONE (or two) things
Don’t try to boil the ocean; focus on a handful of actions that you believe will result in successfully seeing your idea come to fruition. There are many actions you COULD take to implement your idea — usually a result of brainstorming — but the challenge is to define the few critical moves you SHOULD make. You don’t have sufficient time or money to pursue numerous approaches at the same time; narrow them down to one or two that you believe are essential to moving the implementation yardsticks fast.
In business, one effective way of achieving this is to select ONE target market to attack rather than spraying your efforts across several potential ones. Rather than focusing on a consumer segment, for example, which is complicated and often expensive to penetrate, target a specific business application which is more easily reached. Or, go after a confined geographic area — a province or state —rather than a broader one like a country.
In your career, concentrate on ONE specific position in a specific organization you want rather than sending your résumé out to “the world” which will likely get lost in the noise and be ignored. In terms of personal resolutions don’t choose 5 or 6 popular ones; pick ONE that really matters to you — it’s unrealistic to try and accomplish too many things; it will rob you of your optimism and energy.
Don’t chase cars
Stay focused; resist the temptation to stray from your action plan when new possibilities descend on you. It’s all very well to be open to new avenues to explore but it can end up with you chasing anything that comes along. Chasing makes you busy, but is unlikely to achieve the results you want. Every entrepreneur faces this issue. They no sooner lock their launch plan down and a new possibility comes over-the-transom and hits them — an application, a partner, a technology change.
Yes, this “yummy incoming” should be considered and examined thoughtfully, but not chased. Thoughtful consideration of these new possibilities must be given and should have overwhelming benefits before you decide to give up your initial execution plan.
On a personal level, how many times have you been on a path and something new and cool shows itself? Awfully tempting to drop what you’re doing and chase it, right? DON’T!
Plan on the run
Make changes on the run in the face of setbacks that question your idea. It is a rare event when your original implementation plan plays out the way you had intended — not because of yummy, but due to your planned actions not achieving the results you expected.
For example, a planned sales channel couldn’t be negotiated, your original pricing model was unacceptable to potential clients or the original revenue estimates from your primary target market were overly ambitious. In circumstances like these it may be appropriate to revise the direction of your implementation strategy.
“Right idea!” is a great place to start, but unless you put on your execution hat with this guidance, it will never see the light of day.
“Right idea!”; “Brilliant execution!” is the combination that will ensure you avoid the remorse of failure.
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