Earlier this month the new daily newspaper “the New Day” was printed for the last time. Unlike other more established papers which have closed or moved to digital after years of printing, this paper had only been printed for nine weeks. Wow, was it an experiment gone wrong or a poor idea from the Trinity Mirror publishing group?
Developing new ideas can be such a risk, yet for many organisations they know if they don’t develop new ideas they will start to lag behind their competitors or struggle to remain stable into the future.
I’m often asked by business leaders about launching a new idea and how to ensure it doesn’t affect the stability of the main business. I’m also called in when the idea has gone wrong and staff are struggling to come to terms with it.
Here are some of the things I think can help you because they have helped my clients in the past.
Before you launch an idea
- When you develop a new idea make sure you have support from your team, that they genuinely all believe in it and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
- Make sure no one person feels solely responsible for the potential success or failure of the idea. This can cause them to hold back views and options if they think they will come back to haunt them. It can mean not all areas are properly considered or developed leading to blunders and costly oversights, or that ideas are overcomplicated to cover the potential of things going wrong. This increases complexity and costs.
- Bring in advisors and supporters you completely trust to tell you the truth. As a mentor I can often see things which need changing, not because I’m any better than the team involved but because I’m not as heavily emotionally invested in the idea or as close to it as they are. However I do meet mentors and consultants who are not truthful for fear of upsetting clients and losing the work. It’s important to have truthful conversations and sensible plans.
- Test, test and test again. Before launching a big idea make sure you have taken the time to run real tests. Make sure the feedback you get is both genuine and listened to. It’s easy to hear positive responses to your ideas when really you should be hearing the warning bells.
- Use all the skills and knowledge you have available to give this idea the best opportunity it has of success. Far too often organisations launch ideas without speaking to people who could have helped them make it even better.
- Really be sure of the marketplace and your potential for success. Don’t overestimate what is likely to happen. Check out your competitors, have they tried and failed? If they did, why?
When an idea fails
- Make sure you review and reflect so that you can understand what went wrong and how to avoid it next time.
- Avoid blame. It’s easy to lay blame on an individual, a team or circumstances but this can affect future projects and ideas from being successful. Who will fancy working on future ideas if they know they will be blamed if they fail?
- Take time to learn from the failure and see what you can take forward to future plans.
- Give staff time to come to terms with the failure before looking at other ideas, but do look at new ideas because one failure doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It means you need to do something different.
Most of all remember that the most successful enterprising ideas are born from a need someone has. Your project or enterprise is about solving that need. If you are chasing what you think people want rather than offering them something they already know they need, half the battle to a successful enterprise is already won.