Friday, July 31, 2015

Accelerating Your Ideas Into Cash

Most companies have great ideas. The challenge is deciding what to do with them. How can we get
over the hurdles, speed up the implementation and turn these ideas into cash, whether it be from revenue or cost savings?

Stepping outside the box and trying something new can prove difficult because of FEAR. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of letting yourself and others down. Fear hinders growth and perpetuates the status quo. The Good News: You can overcome fear. Below are two practical approaches to embracing the unknown and conquering fear.

1. IDENTIFY Death Threats
When beginning to implement new ideas, attack your fear head on. These fears, also termed ‘Death Threats’, are anything that can get in the way of successfully implementing an idea. Waiting to claim their victory, Death Threats stop an idea before it has the chance to succeed. Whether mentioned in conversation or through thought, they can be found in statements such as:
  • We tried that five years ago and it didn’t work.
  • If the idea saves us money will the customer want a price reduction?
  • My manager will never go along with it.
  • It costs money so there is no way we’ll do it around here, even if it saves much more.
  • To work, the idea needs four people to change how they do things. That will never happen.
  • I need IT to make it work, but they are always too busy.
IMPORTANT: Addressing Death Threats is the proven best and fastest way to implement new ideas. Rooted in psychology and founded on the rule of the 'Common Enemy', humans unite with those who have similar behaviors, vision, ideas and interests. People come together to fight off a common enemy. Examples include teachers in school, quality issues in operations, and dissatisfied customers. Having people identify and attack Death Threats builds natural teamwork. Teams are known to go to extreme lengths to attack common enemies.

How do you attack Death Threats? When an employee suggests an idea for improvement on the assembly line or during a meeting, instead of asking others what they think of the idea, ask them to identify the Death Threats. This shifts the discussion from how to make an idea work, which puts people on the spot and makes them defensive, to how to attack idea roadblocks. This is much easier for people to think about.

Shifting the discussion in this manner changes the dynamic of discussing new ideas. When asked how to make something new work, we gladly help out when it is someone we like. If it is Joe’s idea and I like Joe, I’ll offer a suggestion to help Joe out. So the ideas that move forward can be a popularity contest. When asked the Death Threats regarding Joe’s idea, it doesn’t matter how much I like or don’t like Joe, I’m far more likely to offer up a couple reasons that will stop us from implementing Joe’s idea.

2. INSPIRE Action
Remember the Goal:  Implement MORE ideas than average, FASTER than average. By doing this, you will have built a competitive advantage. The ideas you implement don’t have to be earth-shattering, they can just as easily be continuous improvement actions. It’s all about action.
Here’s how to start:
  • Teamwork: Create a small team to attack each Death Threat associated with an idea.
  • Action: Challenge each team to find ways to kill the Death Threat as fast as they can. Think – how can we pilot the idea without risk? Try it on the line after hours? Prototype the idea at low cost? Gather customer feedback quickly? 
  • Speed: Give each team one week for their action item.
  • Implement: When all Death Threats are addressed, combine the actions from each team together and you’ve got the road map for full implementation. 
Combine the two actions outlined here and turn your organization into an innovation machine with a team of motivated employees. Best of all, you’re creating a culture of innovation by encouraging every employee to share his or her ideas and to collaborate to make the ideas work. More ideas will be implemented faster and more successfully using this approach.

MMTC offers Innovation consulting services from one-day Jump-Starts to Innovation Action Team mentoring. Call 1.888.414.6682 or email to find out more.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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