How to Sell your Big Ideas
This blog is geared to those of you who are employees. You may be in a leadership position and may sometimes fear your ideas are overlooked and not taken seriously. So in this blog, I am sharing some ways to help you better formulate and share your big ideas.
The Problem, The Plan and The Plant
To begin with, your idea needs to be solving a problem. It needs to be clear that your problem is frustrating or time wasting, cumbersome, inefficient, or a costly issue that effects your patients, customers, team or key stakeholders. Here you must:
Identify the problem
Analyse the problem
Propose the solution
Define the outcome and identify what success would look like
Map out the action plan to support its implementation
Identify who and what resources you need to help you
The Fishbone Diagram is a great tool to help you start. It helps you identify all the things you will need to consider when developing a new project. I have created our very own THC Primary Care template for you to download. It’s our most popular tool.
In this planning stage you are also planting your idea with others to see how they think and feel about it. I would advise not to keep your idea close to your chest. Seek out some trusted allies and some critical friends to help you work through this.
Present your Idea Informally
The next phase is to present your idea informally and casually because again you are gathering data on how people think and feel about your proposition. You must look for holes in your idea, potential pitfalls and seek feedback from others. This will help you gauge whether you think it will get the green light.
Don’t be disheartened by the neigh sayers – this is all part of the process.
As much as we like to think our organisations have no hierarchy, there is. And even if your hierarchy is pretty flat, there will be a few key people of influence that need to be won over. If no one springs to mind, take some time to figure out who you will need to talk to, to move your idea to the next level.
When approaching your person or people of influence, pick your moment wisely and try to hook your idea on to an area of focus that has your organisations attention.
People will likely be uninterested if everyone is looking right, and you are trying to make them look left. Also, when talking to your key person of influence, try to speak to their motivations. They may be motivated by money and performance, people and consensus, process or governance.
Work out what is going to get their attention?
What speaks to their values?
And what will evoke some emotion to spark a minimal viable action?
A minimal viable action is something which can be done which requires the least amount of effort, but it creates momentum. This action may be to speak to someone, put it on the agenda or ask for more information.
If your idea gets shot down in flames but you still think it’s got legs. You may have to play a longer game.
The Long Game
When I was a Business Development Manager at a university, it took us 3 years to get the approval to build a stem cell laboratory.
Along the way we won and lost partners. I had to become a stem cell lab risk mitigation expert looking at the business risk, design risk, ethics planning, environmental factors, procurement, operations, performance, demand, maintenance, funding, economic factors, legislation and policy. It was a huge project, and we did it. But it took tremendous patience and multiple attempts.
Hopefully your idea won’t take 3 years, but it may take some effort on your part to position, persuade, influence, compromise, scale back or scale up to bring people on board.
The goal is to get the green light knowing that some people may still need convincing.
To get through this you will need resilience. You will need to develop a thick skin, be approachable and you will need to know your stuff and become an expert.
Keep it simple
If you work in an organisation that makes decisions by committee there will inevitably come the time to present your big idea. This is your moment to shine. Your weeks of hard work will be worth it and again you need to position your idea like it’s a no brainer. Make it simple to communicate and understand. Remember, if you confuse people, you lose people! And remember to speak to people’s motivations and values.
I would love to hear how you get on!
Don’t forget to grab our Fish Bone Diagram Download to help you shape your next big idea or project.
I have an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care and I host The Business of Healthcare Podcast.
I have 3 children - my youngest has Type 1 Diabetes and my middle child has the kidney condition Nephrotic Syndrome. Working with healthcare professionals is not just a job for me, it's part of everyday life. And as a result, I've developed a huge passion for helping others to deliver excellent care.