How To Determine Whether Your Idea Is Good

by Jennifer Good | October 28th, 2012 5:09 AM | No Comments

Good IdeaMuch of my time is spent on the phone or answering emails about whether something is a good idea for a particular client at that particular time. Most often it’s not, and it’s my job to get the client refocused on their original goals they stated in the beginning of our relationship. I frequently stop to think about this pattern and contemplate whether there’s a better way to keep people focused and on track.

This thinking has led me to develop a guide or a master plan that helps keep me and my clients focused a little more clearly. Today, I thought I’d share it in the hopes that you can benefit from it as well. This master plan is created as a series of criteria your idea must meet in order to make it to the next checkpoint. If it doesn’t make it all the way to the last checkpoint, more than likely it’s not the right course of action for you at this time. At the end of this checklist, you’ll find suggestions for dealing with those ideas that don’t cut it right now.

First Check: Is it in line with your ultimate goal?
My master plan always starts with a mission statement that clearly defines what I want and don’t want to provide as a service or benefit. It’s basically my number one ultimate goal. I try to make it as simple and to the point as possible. Most mission statements are filled with so much fluff that they don’t communicate a single purpose. Any time I’m in doubt about what to do or what direction to take, I always weigh my options and possible outcomes against my mission statement. If it doesn’t further this goal, then I know it isn’t the right direction to take at the moment.

Second Check: Do you have the resources in place to incorporate the idea?
Most ideas have great merit, however, that doesn’t mean it’s something that will help you at that specific point in time. I liken ideas to A-list actors getting bombarded with movie scripts. Every idea has some potential, but is it REALLY what you want to work on or what’s right for you at this point in time? The way to evaluate this is to keep a list of the tools available to you, and update it fairly often. I try to do this every 6 weeks or so. Tools are any resources that are helping you accomplish your goals. This could be anything from actual people to the amount and level of technology available to you.

Third Check: Do you really have the time?
Most people overestimate how much time they have available, or they underestimate the actual length of time an action will take. To make an accurate determination regarding your time management, you need to make sure you have a clear picture of what’s going on. This is what works for me:

When I first make a plan for someone or start a new project, I create a list of every single thing that will take up my time, from answering emails and phone calls to actual work and travel time. When my list is complete, I begin giving each task a time value based on how long I believe it will take to complete. In most cases, I cushion it a bit in my favor to allow for unexpected delays. At the beginning of a week, I determine how many hours I will be working. Knowing how much time each action will take simplifies this process. If I only have six hours available on the particular day, I know I can only do tasks that will take up six hours of my time. Now it just becomes a juggling process to determine when is the most opportune time to complete each task.

This method of time management allows me to determine quite clearly if I have the time to actually take on a new idea or project. Even if the idea fits my mission statement and I have the tools to implement the strategy, if I don’t have the time, it just doesn’t make sense to try the idea at this point.

Last Check: Would this idea outperform a current idea or strategy in place?
If you’ve weighed all the options and realized this is a great idea, but time or resources are currently unavailable, you may need to consider whether or not this course of action would be of greater benefit than a current idea you are implementing. I don’t really have an exact science for determining this, but a lot of it deals with a gut feeling and how easy things seem to flow into action. If I find it a struggle to try and get something moving, its typically a good indicator I’m going down the wrong path. However, if everything seems to just “happen” the way it should, I can be fairly certain I’m on the right track for that moment in time.

Final Thoughts
I use the phrase “current moment in time” quite often when it comes to ideas. I feel most ideas have a valid opportunity for success, just sometimes it’s not the right timing. If an idea didn’t meet any of my current criteria, and I still feel fairly strong about its potential, I’ll shelf the idea for review in a few months. About every two months, I go over my list of saved ideas and see if anything would currently make it through my criteria.

This is what I do. What are your methods?

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