Most businesses are full of good ideas. Some are generated by the business owner. Other ideas come from employees. Still others might come from a business consultant the owner is working with. Even more come from a peer group meeting.
What to do with all these good ideas? How do you make it so they don’t get lost in the day-to-day activities of the business? Try these suggestions.
Find a Champion
As a business owner, I was full of good ideas. I was not good at keeping track of the ideas and following through on bringing them to life.
A champion was needed. This is a person who innately creates order, who systemizes things automatically. In my case our champion was my co-owner and wife, Nina.
What about in your world? It could be a business partner. Or it could be an employee, often the office manager, who is great at word-processing and laying things out clearly.
This individual, ideally, is also able to help people like me attend the necessary meetings that crystallizing the ideas requires. In a pleasant way the champion helps those involved stay on task.
Put It in Writing
The champion takes all the ideas and lays them out in a document. Word processing all the ideas will then allow the refinement and organizing of them to take place.
Organize the Ideas by Department
Years ago, Les Cunningham shared a great acronym for the departments of a small business: SOAP. Here is what it refers to:
The champion takes the ideas
and organizes them per these four departments. At the same time she/he is
reducing any repetition and generally making the list more readable.
Create an Advisory Board
An owner running the business by herself or himself needs someone else to be able to discuss the ideas with. Often the office manager might be that person. If there is a production manager that person is likely to be part of the team.
Call it what you will. Advisory Board is one possible name.
The name should suggest that individuals besides the owner are offering advice for the owner’s consideration, not providing direction. It is a privilege to be on such a board. Watch out for participants thinking they are now running the company.
Even if there are two owners, it is a good idea to include one or two other folks, at the least, in this group. One of the reasons is that by doing so these folks will become backers of whatever the owner decide to act on.
Working Together, Prioritize the List
Give each of the members of the Advisory Board the list of ideas. Ask them to pick the top three in each of the SOAP categories.
When the lists have been handed back in the champion then collates the results. At the next meeting of the Advisory Board take enough time to discuss the results to determine what the priorities will be.
For each priority lay out the following horizontally (this is best done in a spreadsheet or table):
- What is going to be done
- Why is it going to be done
- Who is responsible for making sure it gets done
- What the metric to determine success/improvement is
- By when the idea is to be implemented/in place/done
Now you have a plan for
bringing the ideas, the ones with the most value at this time, to life!
Meet and Report
No less frequently than once a month, meet and report on progress. If someone is struggling with getting a commitment done, problem solve together. When someone completes an item on the list celebrate!
As items get done agree upon the new high priority opportunities.
There you have it. Remember that the process is never over. There will always be new ideas to consider. What you do with the ideas determines if your company stays the same or if it changes and gets even better. The choice is up to you.