Organizations that thrive in constant change tend to have a large number of people who offer solutions for improvement. No matter what role you play in your organization you can be a leader of change. In fact, sometimes front line people have the best ideas because they are dealing directly with the customers. The truth is all people in an organization probably have great ideas for how to improve products, the work environment, or service delivery, but many of those great ideas never get any air time.
One reason could be that your idea wasn’t as well thought through as possible and didn’t include input from stakeholders. One of the top mistakes change leaders make is trying to “plant the wrong seed”. It usually happens when you don’t take the time to properly evaluate your idea before presenting it to others. Below is a short process you can use to choose an idea and to make sure it serves all those concerned.
The Vitare Process for Choosing the Right Idea for Change
What is Not Working?
What is happening in your area of work that isn’t working? Be as specific as possible. E.g., Planning committee meetings are ineffective; lack of follow up on the X campaign; poor communication between the development team and the sales team; having to use outdated software; etc. List at least 3 if possible.
What Can You Change?
Which of these is something that could actually change if you got buy-in from others? In other words, don’t choose something completely outside of your control like the weather and also don’t choose something that you could solve by yourself such as re-prioritizing your work. E.g., “Planning committee meetings are ineffective.”
Create Your Ideal Outcome
What is your ideal outcome? What is the opposite of what you wrote in #2? E.g., “Planning committee meetings are ineffective.” becomes “Make planning committee meetings more effective.”
List the Costs
What are the costs involved in staying stuck about this situation? How is this issue affecting other areas of work, home or personal life? It’s usually some version of: lack of well-being, lowered productivity, poor relationships, less creativity, negative attitudes, poor service, etc. E.g. we are way behind schedule, people dislike the meetings, people are getting annoyed with each other, etc.
List the Benefits
What might be the benefits of finding a new idea or solution? Again, it’s usually some version of improved well-being, better productivity and service, improved relationships, better vitality, more creativity and resourcefulness, etc. E.g. we could get back on schedule, people will enjoy the meetings more often, the relationships of the team will improve, we will get more done in less time, etc.
List as many ways as possible to create your ideal outcome. The more ideas the better. Include obvious, bad, good, mundane, silly or even weird ideas.
Choose the top 3 ideas
Look at the list above and choose your top 3. Write out your possible solution below as succinctly as possible. E.g., Make meetings more effective by
- Create an agenda
- Get input from attendees about the agenda before the meeting
- Establish guidelines for interacting during the meeting (e.g. staying curious, being on time, etc).
Make a list of all the stakeholders (all the people who will be affected by this solution). E.g. In addition to your team members, include those you serve and those you report to, etc.
Set the right intention
Make sure your solution will work for as many stakeholders as possible. Look at your top 3 ideas for a solution, then on a scale of 1 to 10 rate how beneficial this would be for all stakeholders? 1 = not at all, 10 = totally beneficial.
Improve the Idea
How could you alter the solution to be more beneficial for more stakeholders? For example, after standing in the shoes of other people on your team you may have a way to improve your idea even more. E.g. Assign a leader for each meeting and establish a series of guidelines for them to follow when both preparing for and facilitating the meeting.
Elicit Feedback from Stakeholders
People support what they help create. How can you best elicit feedback from key stakeholders? People love giving input on things that affect their lives. Plus, their input can further improve your solution and help increase buy in for all concerned. Send out a survey, bring it up for discussion, do a brainstorming session, make a phone call, etc. Ask for their feedback in this way:
- State the problem in as factual and non-blaming a way as possible
- List the costs
- State your ideal outcome
- List the benefits
- Offer your solution as one possibility
- Ask for their ideas as well
Use stakeholder feedback to further improve your idea.