We have all been there before. We are in the boardroom and someone blurts out this amazing and life-changing thought for your team or division. The room is abuzz with excitement and plentiful hope. The magnitude of the thought that has just flown into the air is nearly unimaginable. People are feverishly taking notes and colleagues are offering their praises. “This will surely put an end to (insert the problem of the week/month/quarter here).” A few more agenda items are quickly ticked off and the team forms a procession around the creative genius that spawned this magnificent notion. Many of those desperate to seek a solution join in the celebration and you can hear the pats on the back as you scurry off to another meeting. Great! Problem solved…Next! Whoa! But…wait a minute!
I personally have witnessed this many times, often with colleagues from other disciplines and even from executives with pretty darn high pay grades. I find it absolutely amazing (and utterly frustrating) that the thoughts are merely breathed into the air and the team looks to embrace the “solution” without coming up with the most important part of the idea: the specific planning, the hours of work, that will turn these thoughts into action. The great and mighty thinker that generated the neurotransmitters to spawn the thought will now send out an email or two to help spread the idea and further the glorious celebrations that have ensued. We have communicated a solution (the WHAT), not HOW we will solve the problem. And we wonder why ideas fail? Why incompetence is blamed in the execution of ideas? Why the front line staff is sometimes “responsible” for the failure? Why frustration is felt amongst team members? Is it the managers fault for hanging on to the hope of ticking off another “problem solved”? Is this is a cultural battle of “who can utter the more fascinating idea”? If the problem is worth solving, it most likely will demand much work to putting an end to it.
It is far more likely that we have not even given the idea a chance. A chance to evolve from the thoughts and well-intended notions of a colleague into “next steps” and “action plans”; tweaking certain aspects of the grandiose idea that will be required to successfully implement and communicate the “HOW“. Think about this…The solution to a problem is born from the “HOW” – not the “WHAT“. HOW to solve the problem is where many other questions are asked and answered: who, what, when, why… This is where the work is done and this is where leaders emerge. Putting thoughts into action and influencing the actions of others with your thoughts and actions.
I leave you with some fascinating information from Dictionary.com to ponder: the antonym of the word idea is actually “reality”. So lets not get caught up in the mystique of the idea and revel with those that generate the ideas. We do not live in a world where problems solve themselves. Ideas should give birth to action – don’t let them die or live a life of solitude in some fantasy world.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t be shy…share your ideas about generating great actions from good ideas. Thank you for your time and for sharing this post with others.