4 Questions that Define a Useful Idea
Good ideas aren’t necessarily useful. Any idea that you can’t act on today is a glamourous distraction.
Useful ideas are actionable today.
A bucket full of good ideas is paralyzing.
Choose a mission that’s clear enough to challenge people. Don’t change it. Adopt goals that apply in turbulence or calm and stick with them.
Chasing new ideas feels exciting, but your team is tired of starting new things before finishing this thing.
4 questions that define a useful idea:
#1. Can the horses pull the wagon?
Forget about the horses you wish you had. Useful ideas require you to dig in, but the horses you have must be able to make progress.
Good ideas sparkle and sing but an idea that paralyzes the team is a disillusionment.
Tip: Hire for progress, not maintenance.
#2. Do the horses want to pull the wagon?
Few things are more dazzling than a good idea that requires OTHERS to fulfill it.
- Where are the horses in the barn willing to go?
- What are YOU prepared to do to get there?
#3. What if you don’t pull the wagon at all?
Ideas matter when they improve things. If you don’t pull the wagon at all, will anything be lost?
#4. What does progress look like today?
It’s tragic when people end a day of hard work but can’t describe what they got done.
People need to know what winning today looks like.
- What will be different at the end of the day if we make progress?
- What do we need to do – now – to make progress today?
- What’s distracting us from making progress?
- How might we eliminate roadblocks to progress?
- What can we finish today?
Tip: Define progress in terms of behaviors.
How do you define a useful idea?
What distracts us from useful ideas?
I find all your posts excellent – this one is particularly good because it is so USEFUL!
Thanks Anne. You’re very kind. It’s a pleasure to be of service.
Good morning Dan,
I just posted a comment about todays blog post – very excellent!
As I hit “post” I realized I broke one of my cardinal rules – a quick reread for typos and unintended tone – and in my haste I left a typo in my website address.
I’m writing this b/c taking that extra 10 seconds pays big benefits: not looking like a dole or a jerk…too bad I didn’t follow my own rule – thought you might appreciate that observation.
Thanks for all the great posts!
Action 2 Outcomes
Author, “Stop Spinning Your Wheels: Using Results-Based Accountability to Steer Your Agency to Success”
Thanks Anne. It’s fun that you circled back and gave us glimpse of the ‘real’ world. Cheers!
This is pure gold!
Thanks Tom! Be well!
Dan, I like your metaphor. I would add…
Are the horses able to pull the wagon to the finish line.
A useful idea is clear, simple, and easily understood. It is accepted by those who have to implement it.
Part of being able to pull the wagon to the finish line is knowing where the finish line is and being confident it won’t move while you are heading there.
Great point–I agree.
Nailed it, Jennifer. Thx
Thanks Paul. People who get things done, love to get things done. They don’t like starting things they can’t finish.
I’m pinning this one to the wall because I am likely ‘guilty as charged’ quite often. This will be a good filter.
I hear you Susan. Thanks for jumping and best wishes.
Needed this message today!!! Very timely advice for a huge project I’m working on that requires a significant change in practice for a lot of people…. If we can pull this off (and we can), it will be amazing…! Thanks!!
Best wishes with your project Susan. Surprisingly, one of the key factors of success for huge projects is not getting distracted and reaching milestones in a timely manner. Thanks for jumping in today. Cheers
Dan, I work in education and we are notorious for coming up with “New Idea” without first thinking about the Horses. Great post today, very helpful. I plan to share this story at our next supervisors meeting. Thank you for the work you do!
Thanks Tim. I wish you and the supervisors success. It’s so funny that we don’t think about the horses in the barn before making important plans.
We also sometimes focus on who else we can get to hold the reins. We point out the finish line, and then wander off as if our job is done. Though I think this is a topic that deserves its own separate post entirely.
The part about what progress looks like today caught my attention the most. Sometimes we need to accept the fact that our best efforts are good enough.
Pingback: Five Blogs – 7 December 2021 – 5blogs