You’re not alone. The time to act on a great idea can be so fleeting. We’ve all been in meetings when eyes light up around the room at a good idea. The team bounces around their thoughts to make it a great idea there and then – and you all leave enthusiastically agreeing to make it happen. And then, somehow, it doesn’t.
Just like the bubbles in the Peanuts cartoon strip, the fragile membrane of goodwill can quickly disintegrate under other pressures. The way you drive a great idea in its early moments is absolutely crucial – it takes aspirational leadership to keep the bubble alive.
What keeps a great but fragile idea in tact? Here are some thoughts:-
Capture it. Record the idea straight away – it doesn’t matter how. Don’t delay if it feels raw and rough around the edges. You’ll get time to refine it later. What matters more is to get the ball rolling and know what the next steps will be in the form of actions and date(s) in the diary.
Take responsibility. To give a fragile idea life you must be prepared to take responsibility for it straight away. No one will ever understand your idea as well as you and your team did in that first glorious moment of inspiration. Are you prepared to take the responsibility to stick your neck out to argue for a great idea?
Bottle the passion. As well as the idea itself, keep talking to your team about what it is that gave you all that feeling of excitement at the moment the idea arrived? How did the idea make you and them all feel? Leaders who can bottle – and remind others of – the emotions behind the idea stand the best chance of seeing it through.
Work hard on those who weren’t there. It’s rare to have all the people you need to make an idea work in at its birth. When explaining a great idea to those whose support you need but didn’t feel the original passion, set aside time to think through what would motivate them to back you. You need to short circuit your idea to their aspirations to move from lukewarm encouragement to genuine enthusiasm.
Sustain the commitment. Finally, ideas don’t become reality overnight, so you need to sustain the commitment of all. This is the hard, because so many other tasks and priorities get in the way. Go back to your original note of the idea to remind yourself and others of the passion for your idea. And understand what is it that made other stakeholders buy in to the idea. Understand this will help you (and them) overcome the understandable temptation to leave even great ideas to one side.