Sylvia Henderson, Author – Hey, That’s My Idea!
“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.” – Hyman Rickover
How many times have you had an idea or suggestion for a solution about something? About anything? Now, how many times have you acted, or convinced someone else to act, on your ideas? I’ll bet the ratio of acting on your ideas compared to having them is small. It is for most of us. There are lots of books, e-books, seminars and courses on creativity and how to get ideas. Yet once you have them, what do you do with them? How do you organize your thoughts and make sense of them? How do you sift through the “wild ideas” to determine which ones to pursue? How do you communicate your ideas to others and convince them to act? How do you determine your own actions? Do you ever have an idea and prejudge it out of existence with, “Oh, it’s too silly” or “off the wall”?
• Tell me you have never seen or heard a silly or outrageous commercial.
• What about the idea of placing ads on the movie screen in a theater when you’ve paid for the movie experience? They wouldn’t! (They do.)
• The idea that spam messages that raise the usage fees you pay on your phone would be sent to you without your permission is ridiculous isn’t it? No way. (Way.)
• A national business franchise dedicated solely to picking up the daily doo from your pets? (Dooty Calls™!)
• What if we could carry our address book, calendars and schedules, a note-taking tool, some games, access our e-mail and the Internet, and read books all on a device we could carry in our pockets? (Most of us now have such a device, and it even makes telephone calls!)
All of these started as what may have seemed to be wild ideas, and look where they are today. Making money and making an impact.
What about ideas? Whether you have an idea for an invention, a solution to a problem, an easier or more efficient way to do something, a change to a process, the next book or movie premise, a way to better establish a relationship, or a suggestion for working smarter rather than harder, you have ideas. I cannot begin to list them here, yet I know I have many ideas every day. I keep a pad of paper at my night stand and note cards in my pocket so that I can record my ideas as they come. My smart phone can record voice messages I can later download as audio files to my computer. Yet we put only a fraction of our ideas into action. I examined why this is so and how to change the situation for myself.
Since I find myself looking at something that is a reality and say, “Hey, that’s my idea,” I figure many other people experience similar revelations. You want your ideas to have impact. I want to make an impact on the world as I travel through life. Therefore, I define a process of organizing, communicating, selling, and acting on ideas as a process I designate as IMPACT. I detail the process in my book Hey, That’s My Idea! © Sylvia Henderson. ISBN #978-1-932197-32-7. V-Twin Press. 2011. Everything you’ve read up to this point is paraphrased from my book preface. However, this composition is an article—a stand-alone “paper” with information you can apply to your life and use right away. So let’s move from book preface to an overview of a process you can use the next time you want to go from “idea to implementation” to turn your ideas and suggestions into realities.
I remember being amazed at how, in my workplace, I would suggest something in a meeting. My suggestion seemed to disappear into the air because no one acknowledged what I said. Then, someone else would make the same suggestion. Suddenly, my manager and other people in the room would exclaim their amazement and become enthusiastic about the suggestion. As they huddled to determine how to implement the suggestion, I would look astounded and think, “Hey, that was my idea!” Does this happen to you?
Well, let it happen no more! Today is the first day of the rest of your life. (That statement is someone else’s idea!) Discover how to organize the ideas you have in your head, solidify them, and convey them so that your ideas—coming from you—are heard and acted upon. Use the following IMPACT© technique to convey what is in your head so that your target audience knows of what you think. Then organize and present your ideas to persuade and engage people to act on your ideas and suggestions.
IMPACT© is the mnemonic I give the process to help you recall the six stages you will navigate to take your ideas from mind to matter. The stages are sequential. Work your way through them in the order in which they are presented. When your brain churns with ideas, you will be able to take them from mental circulation to actual implementation, thereby influencing what matters to your organization or to your life.
This IMPACT© diagram visually represents the sequence of thoughts and actions I submit that you follow to organize, document, communicate, and encourage action on your ideas.
I – Initiate your idea.
- Choose the idea with import.
- Apply critical and creative thinking to develop it.
M – Mold your message.
- Take inventory of reasons, data, and facts.
- Edit them down to their essence.
- Organize the elements for persuasion.
- Clear it up, write it down.
P – Plot your strategy.
- Use sales strategies to “sell it” (even if it is not for sale).
- Pace yourself: before, during, and after.
A – Attention…command it.
- Assimilate the norms for your organization.
- Interrupt when warranted.
- Redirect if necessary
C – Communicate for action.
- Listen purposefully.
- Employ select verbal and nonverbal techniques.
- Integrate effective presentation skills.
T – Terminate assertively.
- Schedule the next move; make your call for action.
- Make the tone commensurate to the request.
- Be gracious and grateful.
Let’s explore each stage in a bit more depth. For the record, I use “idea” and “suggestion” interchangeably. Whichever term I use I refer to the “stuff that’s in your head”; your thoughts as they relate to something you think can be done, invented, approached in a different manner (from what is currently in place), purchased, tried, written, produced, solved, or otherwise started, changed, or ended—by you and by other people.
Initiate your idea.
This first stage of the IMPACT© process is where you examine the many ideas you have at any one point in time and determine the one on which you will focus your energies this time. You can capture your other ideas so that you don’t lose them, yet in order for any of them to take shape and come to fruition, choose the one with the most import to the time, situation, and target audience. Then apply critical and creative thinking techniques—including an Idea Inventory tool—to develop your chosen idea. Once you experience the IMPACT process you will be able to return to your other ideas and repeat the process.
Mold your message.
The second stage of the IMPACT© process is where you do a “brain dump”—a transfer of everything you can think of and learn through research that relates to your idea—from your head and disparate notes, into the documentation of your choice (paper or electronic) so that your idea is physically in one place. It may be scattered about on your desk or electronic desktop, yet you have all the info-bits and pieces in one place. You then organize the bits and pieces of your idea following proven organizing patterns. By the end of this stage you see your idea take shape more clearly.
Plot your strategy.
The third stage of the IMPACT© process is where you take your organized idea and fine-tune it. Then plot your communication strategy so that you can relay your idea in a way most effective for persuading other people. Create your sales strategy to figuratively “sell your idea” (even if it is not literally for sale).
- Decide how you will build anticipation prior to presenting or unveiling your idea,
- Evaluate the needs and norms of your intended audience, and
- Determine the persuasive methods that match your style and fit your idea.
It is at this stage where you plan your communications and work out how you will present your idea to your target audience.
The first three stages of the IMPACT© process involve a lot of thinking, planning, organizing, and writing—so not sexy; so necessary before you implement a strategy. Legendary Hall-of-Famer Quarterback Roger Staubach said, “Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation”. The first three stages are the unspectacular preparation for communicating and implementing your idea. The last three stages of the IMPACT© process are your ACTion stages.
The fourth stage of the IMPACT© process is where you fully develop your communication tools and begin to present your idea. Research your audience and determine how to best meet their needs with your idea. Use effective communication and presentation techniques to capture your audience’s attention and interest them in your idea. Communicate with authority to command respect, and return focus to your idea when discussion goes off on a tangent.
Communicate for action.
The fifth stage of the IMPACT© process is a seamless continuation of the previous stage. In this stage you continue honing your communications approaches and presentation techniques. Employ positive verbal and nonverbal techniques. Listen purposefully. React appropriately to challenges and questions. Persuade your audience with your messages, reasoning, and presentation skills.
The sixth stage of the IMPACT© process is where you “seal the deal”—make your call to action to put your idea in motion. Present an action plan and schedule the next moves. Involve your audience in the plans and get commitments, with deadlines. Be specific. Communicate the pay-off for acting on your idea. Make the tone commensurate to the request. Express your appreciation while avoiding groveling and begging. Remain in control of your idea by steering the course for its implementation.
Losing your idea to another person offers a rich learning opportunity for “the next time”. When you successfully implement your idea you experience a positive motivator. Keep this in mind when people weigh-in on your ideas. Plan (initiate, mold, plot) and present (attention, communicate, terminate) your ideas for maximum buy-in and definitive actions to implement your ideas with success. Use the IMPACT© process to become a more deliberate thinker, planner, and communicator.
Anyone can have a great idea. Yet, the leap from inspiration to implementation is too wide for many to make. By following the IMPACT© process, the giant leap becomes manageable because you have tools that help you construct a bridge that moves your ideas from mind to materialized. My wish for you is that never again will you look at an advertisement, or see a product on the shelf, or read about a great thought leader—pause, frown—and say, “Hey, that’s my idea!”
|My unapologetic ad…invest in my book Hey, That’s My Idea! ©Sylvia Henderson. V-Twin Press. ISBN #978-1-932197-32-7 . Contact Sylvia to speak or facilitate a program in your organization to learn the full details of the IMPACT process, and experience the worksheets and supplementary video, audio , and text supports for additional learning.|