Iron Rule #8: Allow inspired ideas to settle overnight before deciding totake action.
Oct 1, 1997 12:00 PM, Ron Davis
Anxiety. Frustration. Enthusiasm. High energy. Elation. Anger. All of thesewords evoke an emotion. When they are experienced, however, they can createa crisis. Sometimes, ideas not acted upon create crises. Other times, ideasacted upon create the same crises, all of which can be described by thosefew words. As entrepreneurs or even managers with entrepreneurial spirits,we are told, and believe, that we are free spirits and that we live by ourimaginations and survive on our wits. We generate seemingly harebrainedideas as though there were no tomorrow, and who among our staffs andemployees would dare tell us we're wrong? And of course, more often thannot, we really are right.
As an example, examine a really good idea. Let's assume that this morningat breakfast (or at whatever time of day that you do your most creativethinking), you came up with an idea - to sell a service contract on everyinstallation you and your company made. The live-by-the-seat- of-your-pantstypes will latch onto that idea, and with the enthusiasm and high energy ofthe truly innocent, they will implement the idea. Literature will bedeveloped, new advertising and sales strategies will be created,salespeople will be instructed on how to market this and all without givingdue thought or consideration to the customers and how they will react tothe idea. On the other hand, if we all just took a day to think about it,maybe we could refine our program even further. How about this? Instead ofoffering only a service contract on every installation, we test marketseveral different approaches, such as including service contracts in thefirst year's billing, creating an inspection call as part of the servicecontract or using direct mail followed up by telephone conversations forconversion. All are good ideas. All could be used at one point or another.Because we are so caught up in the enthusiasm ofthe moment and our firmbelief that something just can't miss, however, we tend not to follow good,business-like guidelines.
Those business guidelines tell us that while our enthusiasm may be ourgreatest strength, it may also be our greatest enemy. We are consistentlypushing the envelope of doing things rather than thinking about them.
It has been said that the highest function of which we are capable as humanbeings is that of rational thought. Many times, we merely think we think.Instead, we should go through the arduous process of creating a premise,thinking about it, and then reacting to the thought with action. Morefrequently than not, an idea not thought through is destined for failure.
Here is an idea as to how you can go through the creative thinking process,fully develop your thoughts, then implement them successfully. In his bookthe Success System that Never Fails, W. Clement Stone identifies this asthe sure-fire method by which ideas are created and brought to fruition.The first thing to do is to understand and recognize an idea that has takenshape in your mind. Write down the idea, look at it, study it, and see howit feels. This is kind of a trying-it-on-for-size mode of operation, and itis at that point where many ideas are discarded. They just don't stand theworkability test in the hard light of a full psychological grilling. Oncean idea has been recognized, we then have to relate it to the work that weare doing. That goes something like this: "My idea is to create a totalquality control program for my company. What this will mean to the companyis reduced service calls, more satisfied customers and a higher level ofproductivity among all staff members."
Once an idea has been recognized and related to the work we do, then wehave to assimilate it into our thinking. How is the idea going to beimplemented? Who is going to be responsible for it? What is the timing?What are the costs? What are the tangible results? Are they measurable? Andso forth. Finally, the idea has to be acted upon with a timetable forevents and a recognition of the successful completion of those events.
Even though this Iron Rule is to "take a day just to see if it feels asgood as it did the first day," what is really meant here is not to jumpinto a program or implement an idea or take action on an idea that has notbeen thoroughly thought out and discussed. An idea that is not acted uponis nothing more than an idea, a whiff of smoke, a blank space, a pause onyour memo pad. Acted upon, though, an idea takes shape, form and life andprovides a tracking for entrepreneurs and managers to create even greaterforms of business activity. Productivity will increase, using today'sresources.
Sleep on it. Think about it. Wonder about it. Look at it from all angles,and if you are convinced that the idea will work, then implement it withfull authority and conviction. You'll find yourself among the moresuccessful people of our generation.