Regulating the Idea Machine (Entrepreneur)
Entrepreneurs are Idea Machines. They produce a terrific volume of ideas–some that are pure gold, some that aren’t. While generating ideas comes easily for entrepreneurs, discerning which ideas to implement and which to discard does not usually come as easily.
CO2 Partners specializes in working with entrepreneurs and helping them organize, sort, select, and manage their ideas. Our goal is to preserve the best ideas (including the one that led to the creation and success of the business) and avoid overwhelming the entrepreneur’s coworkers–to keep them from chasing down ideas that may not be in the individual’s or organization’s best interests, in other words.
Renegade entrepreneurs pose as many dangers to their own organizations as they do to the competition. They need not rein in their ideas, as much as they need to regulate them. Here are six ways for entrepreneurs to effectively regulate the Idea Machine:
- Store all your ideas in an electronic file to be reviewed at the annual strategic planning retreat. Once you allow an idea to sit for a short time, it is amazing how fast it does not seem to be that important.
- Provide a forum for employees to propose, discuss, and vote on ideas (yours and theirs) before they’re implemented. The willingness to expose your ideas to so many people up front likely will help you filter out second-rate ideas.
- Build a stage-gate process for ideas to be introduced and developed. The goal here is to slow down the implementation process, so that new ideas don’t undermine current, effective practices.
- If annual meetings slow the Idea Machine too much, consider having quarterly retreats. Take all the ideas generated that quarter and mash them up against the current plan to see if any have greater merit than the current ideas being executed.
- Hire someone you respect to push back against your ideas before you share those ideas with anyone internally. Your coworkers may have too much respect, admiration, and fear to truly push back against you, the way a coach or mentor can.
- When you see something that needs fixing, take the problem to the appropriate organizational level. If you want accountable coworkers, hold them accountable for their results, but don’t make them do their jobs the way you would. Keep your focus on big-picture issues.
Entrepreneurs, please don’t take offense if someone forwarded you this post. They likely love your ideas, but feel like they are drinking from a fire hose of ideas that they can’t possible keep up with and are really asking for your help.
Idea Generation Trap