What makes a good idea great?

You need to solve a problem or have a novel concept.  One starts by defining the “what” you are attempting to solve or accomplish.  This should be communicated in plain language, spelling out the meaning of any acronyms used and succinct, yet complete, as possible.

All the projected benefits should be identified.  They become the “why” of your idea and serve as the primary motivation to move forward.  Enumerate key components – the “where” and “when” – needed to implement.  Be sure to include any specific skills and expertise required to move the concept to fruition.  This “who” can range from yourself alone, to an acknowledged expert, to an established team, to consultants, to a blending of any of these resources.  And finally the “how” is mapped out in a plan that sets milestones and measurements.

Now ask and address these questions before proceeding to the next step:

  • How familiar are you with the strategy of the organization?
    -Does this idea support the strategy?
    -Have you used the current “buzz” words/phrases?
    -If not in support of the strategy, can you still defend the idea?
  • Have you properly edited the submission?
    – Has the idea been reviewed for spelling & grammar?
    – Has the content been reviewed for completeness?
    – To what level of understanding is the idea written?
  • Have you emphasised both the pluses and minuses in getting this idea implemented?
    – What is the most unique part of your idea?
    – Why would someone turn down this idea?
    – What sections of the idea were most difficult for you to describe?
    – Have you offered to communicate directly with the evaluator(s)?

This will certainly make your idea look good.  But what makes a good idea, great?  Organisations that promote innovation within the workplace, such as ideasUK, Ideas America, Zentrum Ideen Management and Ideas Arabia host annual competitions to recognise and celebrate truly great ideas developed by individuals and teams within their organisations.  One organisation, who knows what it takes to deliver winning ideas is Dubai Customs.  Not only have they won the ideasUK Idea of the Year competition for three years running, but also the first ever global award.

What makes a good idea great – Dubai Customs

‘Winning is a great feeling, but knowing that our ideas have made a real difference, within our organisation and to the wider community, is what really drives us to achieve even greater success.  Whilst we may not always win, we always strive to deliver the next big idea and there are a few things everyone can do to help turn their ideas into the next big thing:

  1. Challenge – The first and most important step is to clearly identify critical challenges to solve.  Where are the biggest pain points within the organisation and where can the biggest difference be made?  Without a well-defined and researched challenge or opportunity, your idea will not be as powerful as it could be.
  2. Vision – You must then have a clear vision of how you want to solve your challenge.  Whilst ‘blue-sky’ thinking is all well and good, to be able to focus your thoughts towards achieving a goal will certainly assist with idea generation.  Ultimately it is far easier to receive support for your idea from management, colleagues and the wider community if your idea also aligns with the organisation goals.
  3. Project Plan – Treat your idea as if it were a project and develop a full plan, complete with attainable goals and milestones along the route.  A clear process and step-wise approach to the implementation of your idea will ensure you stay on track and help you monitor progress.
  4. Sponsor – When you believe you have found a game changing idea, try to identify and gain at least one senior leader who will act to support you.  A strong internal sponsor can help you overcome many obstacles and significantly shorten the time taken to realise your goals.
  5. Communication – Be sincere when communicating with others to build credibility and encourage others to get involved.  Develop an ‘elevator pitch’ to describe your idea, highlighting what you are trying to achieve, why you are doing it and the steps you are taking.  Include the potential qualitative and quantitative benefits, to connect with people on both a practical and emotional level.
  6. Commitment – You need to be completely dedicated to ensuring the implementation of your idea, often working extra hours beyond your day job to ensure your idea is not just implemented but the true benefits of your idea are realised.
  7. Motivation – If working in a team, always recognise the role each individual plays.  As a team, celebrate the milestones and small successes throughout the process.
  8. Belief – Of the utmost importance is to really believe in your idea as well as in yourself and your team.  It’s that unwavering belief in your vision that will ultimately ensure your idea is not just good but great!’

It is when the conceptual “what, why, when, where, who, and how” are detailed through a practical approach that includes challenge, vision, project planning, sponsorship, communications, commitment, motivation and belief that a good idea gets better and a better idea becomes great.   So, what’s your idea?  Let’s make it a great one!