Why Your Idea Isn’t Good Enough (And How To Fix It)

turn-ambiguity-into-actionIdeas are great, but really don’t stand for much on their own. They are actually quite useless if they don’t get acted upon.

As the saying goes, execution eats strategy for lunch.

The challenge is that the path to execution can require moving through some ambiguity.

From Ambiguity to Action

Often, and particularly when we’re breaking new ground, it is unclear how to make the leap from ideation to action…how to take the first steps on a new and exciting journey.

Many times, this is where ideas die. Or worse, they languish indefinitely.

People can feel like the problem is solved once the idea is crystalized and then go back to the many other issue that require attention. We walk away feeling confident that it will be acted upon. After all, the idea is good and it serves an important purpose.

But who is going to initiate that action? And how are they going to do it?

Sometimes there isn’t a precedent for this particular initiative or their isn’t an obvious forum to bring it to or it’s unclear who should “own” the next steps.

Here’s where one of the best, most important, and most powerful tenets of leadership comes into play:

Make stuff up.

Yes, your job is to invent the future and here’s the perfect opportunity to make something happen.

There is no plan? There is no precedent? There is no clear path?

Make one.

As long as you base your actions on rational thinking and develop a plan of action aimed at servicing the strategic objectives of the organization and whatever particular initiative is in play, things will be fine.

Even if your plan is imperfect.

You Want Progress, Not Perfection

The idea here isn’t to develop a perfect end-to-end plan. What’s needed is action. Action will lead to reaction, discussion, revised plans, further analysis and planning, and more action.

After all, if the idea is sound and aimed at strategic goals, the most important next step is to figure out how to make it happen. That’s the conversation you’re trying to incite.

The key to breaking through the ambiguity is to take the first step. Lots can fall into place after that. But nothing can happen without it.

Take Action Now

So, what can you do to put this idea into practice?

Start small…Maybe with something as simple as lunch.

The next time you’re making lunch plans with  group, deviate from the ambiguity that all too often surrounds these sorts of conversations.

You know the drill. We approach the discussion tentatively and head down a path of raising more questions that don’t really matter so much in the long run…”where do you want to go to lunch?”…and after all the back and forth finally settles down…”what time should we go?”….more back and forth…etc…

Instead of doing that, suggest a very specific plan of action. “Let’s go to Temptations Cafe at 12:30 and plan to be back at the office by 1:30.”

Now, even if the location and time change in the resulting discourse, see if the group gets to action faster. Is there less back and forth? Did you help shape the path forward simply by putting a stake in the ground? By giving a specific plan for people to react to?

The objective is to enjoy a group lunch. The plan of how we get there is secondary. So, rather than put lots of energy into plan building with the group, start with a very specific draft. Even if it changes (and it will), you’ve helped to meet the larger goal more effectively.

And if you can do that for lunch plans, you can do that in service of other objectives as well.

Start small and experiment.