In Part One of Executing Ideas: Turning Great Thoughts into Reality, we ended by editing yourself down to one or two great thoughts to execute. Part 2 began the process of evaluating the idea. Part 3 will walk you through actually executing ideas.
How is executing ideas any different from good ol’ goal-setting tactics? The answer is not much! I believe that meeting goals is a little more personal and definitive than executing ideas. And, the idea you are executing might be a longer-term, more operational type plan or even a new venture. So, while starting your own blog might be a goal to reach, the subjects you write about or the SEO you strive to achieve are more like the ideas to execute. In other words, goals are projects that have a beginning and end; executing ideas is more like daily operations.
Below are the components of a good strategic plan. We are going to build a solid plan for executing ideas. As an example, let’s say your great idea is to reduce the cost of picking up litter in Texas.
- Vision. You are the idea person! It’s your dream. So, the vision has to come from you in the form of a short and memorable phrase. Perhaps you envision a beautiful Texas sunset in the Hill Country with nothing but beautiful land as far as the eye can see – no plastic bags or old beer cans blowing about – and a beautiful river, full of clean water flowing through the valley below. So, your vision becomes “ensuring a beautiful Texas landscape for generations to come.”
- Mission. This is the what and why part of executing ideas. What are you trying to do and why? It doesn’t need to be as short as your vision statement, but it still needs to get its point across in one sentence that has an outcome and includes any broad goals. A mission doesn’t limit the strategy or who might become involved. It might be something like, “to allow future generations to enjoy the landscapes of Texas, by getting the word out to Texas residents to collaborate to stop littering and messing up our own natural resources and beauty.”
- Objectives. This is where the goal setting comes into play. So, with our example above, perhaps a statement like: “To reduce the cost to the Great State of picking up litter by 20% within one year by educating and enlisting Texas residents to quit littering.”
- Strategies. This is all about how. How will you meet the objectives? You will probably have more than one strategy, so don’t be afraid to put several strategies into play. In our example, you might have: 1) identifying who litters the most, 2) hiring an advertising agency to target those individuals with an over-reaching campaign, and 3) educating those individuals using people they respect.
- Action plans. This is about executing ideas. What steps will actually be required to make it happen? The first step might be to come up with a great slogan… let’s go with Don’t Mess With Texas. Then, we determine who is going to do what, by when to bring the idea to life. You need creative team members to design ads across different mediums. You need production people to print materials and buy media space. Who all needs to be aware of the campaign? Who needs to approve what and by when? Will we buy TV or radio ads? Who can we get to speak on those TV or radio ads? When does it all come together?
Details and Timelining
At some point, I will bet that I have lost my small-business owners who don’t like to get into the nitty gritty of executing ideas. I get it. You want to create the vision and, perhaps the mission, and then the objectives, strategies, and – by all means – the action plans need to go to someone else. I’ve seen it way too many times: a brilliant idea falls to the wayside because the details become overwhelming and way less fun to do than coming up with the brilliant idea. The problem is that if you don’t execute it, it’s not really that brilliant.
Can you imagine if that person who had the dream for a cleaner Texas just stopped before the objectives, strategies, and actions plans were put into place? You wouldn’t have icons like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson, and George Strait helping to inspire and educate Texas residents over 30 years to make it their duty and honor to keep Texas clean.
Your idea could be just as brilliant. Don’t let it die. If you aren’t good at the tactical part of executing ideas, then bring in someone who is! If you avoid the planning, you just end up with a dream, rather than a success story. So, part of your objectives and strategies might need to include who can execute this for you. And how do you find that person?
There are many people, like me, who are more tactically oriented than they are big-idea minded. You want to find someone who likes to make things happen and doesn’t get sidetracked along the way. Perhaps you just need a project manager who can help you stay on track? If you can’t afford that because you’re just starting out, look for a spouse, a sibling, a neighbor, or one of your children who might have this skill set… and don’t forget retired parents who might want a challenge. The bottom line is that without planning and timelining, you will never be successful at executing ideas.
Perhaps your next great idea needs to be about who you can get to help you with executing ideas….