How to manage the “idea” monster

Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Idea people are everywhere.

Healthy organizations change.  However, if as a leader you do not know how to systematically handle ideas, urges, impressions, “words from God”, thoughts, or suggestions the following with inevitably happen:

  1. You will lose the respect of people you lead
  2. People will not buy into all the changes all the time
  3. You will feel overwhelmed by too many to do’s
  4. Leaders and influences who are shaped differently than you will leave your organization out of frustration
  5. “Holes” in your organization that need to be plugged will be ignored
  6. and much more

Not everyone can handle all the new ideas that you might have.  Not everyone believes you are simply “brainstorming, blue skying, or talking out loud.”  Some people might see you are short sighted and your ideas might seem small.  Others will take a look at the idea and see where it fails.  Still others might judged your idea and not like its implications.

Ideas can bring new life to organizations and help organizations get unstuck.  However, I have found that a good system of managing ideas generally follows these principles.

  1. Write the idea down on a list – keep a master list.  Don’t just say it out loud.  If its out loud only, its not a solid idea.
  2. Filter the ideas
    • Does the idea stay within confines of biblical revelation
    • Does the idea advance the church vision or a personal project
    • Does the idea help me fulfil scorecard, wins, or rocks (direction we have)
  3. Take the good ideas once a week/month/quarter and in a separate folder.  There is a difference between small ideas and ideas that can alter an organization.  When there are ideas that can change the organization, take your time.  Ideas that have to be implemented immediately generally cause small changes and big challenges.
    • Articulate “the why”
    • Address the human side.  Reactions to the idea.
    • Variations of the idea
  4. Get feedback from key people above you (managers) and outside of organization.
  5. Find a trusted team member or outside person who can be honest with you.  Every idea has short comings.  Be open and honest about the problems with your idea.
  6. Introduce the best ideas once month / quarter to your leadership team.
    • Build consensus on key changes
  7. Develop a change management strategy
  8. Work through the strategy one step at a time.