Turning new ideas into action requires capturing ideas faithfully and integrating them into a coherent action plan.
A business owner may have many new ideas, things to implement, ways to improve the business. Ideas come in from the market, competitors and customers who request additional services. How then to turn them into action?
In addition to all these new ideas, many things are already on the go, stored in the trusted management system. There may not be time to implement these new ideas straight away.
Enter Evernote, the ultimate library
Use Evernote as the document library to store all these ideas for a later date, for when there is time to implement them. You may later find that disparate items can be grouped together to form a project.
At what level does an idea go?
Place into your Evernote library thoughts, concepts, ideas, options, possibilities. If a subject needs analysis: create a task (or a reminder in Evernote) to deepen the plan. If it’s an actionable item, add it to the task manager, but at what level, with what priority?
There are ongoing tasks and activities, and also other ideas waiting. It may not be immediately obvious what priority to give to new thought and how to manage it.
Evaluate New Ideas
If you have a great new idea, don’t immediately knock it down or analyse it away by thinking it’s impossible. Don’t look for all the reasons why it might be impossible (time, money, or difficulty). Note it down and be positive. Think of and write down the path to implementation, the steps you could take to getting it done.
Over time, you will have many ideas noted down, and some may overlap; you may need to put some aside. This sorting and linking phase is where you evaluate each one, but also see if an item relates to others. Consider creating a project either from the bottom up or top down.
Linking Ideas Together
Linking items together may give you the idea that you can implement several things as a group. You need then to pull them together into an action plan, something that is coherent and actionable in real life. You need then to find the (financial, material and human) resources to get it done and then plan (sequence) to see a logical, sensible, doable order in which to get things done.
However, you will evaluate and plan more than once; it is a relatively continuous process. Partly because you will continue to think up new things, which you need to evaluate, partly because you need to assess the plan to make sure that it is still the best approach.
Continuous Improvement Cycle
The ball is rolling. You have a plan; ideas are coming in, you are evaluating the new stuff against the existing, skimming off the inappropriate ones.
However, you also need to remain faithful to some long-term goal. Your continuous new-ideas generation process may be keeping your business dynamic, but do you have a trajectory?
You need to think about this trajectory. Where is it? Where are things taking you? What are your long-term goals?
GTD asks you to divide your tasks into horizons, into things that you focus on now, projects that are ongoing and longer-term ‘objectives’ or desired outcomes for which you are aiming. If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get anywhere.
Of course, you may be caught up in the daily doing and not have had the time or the focus to establish goals. But you need to. It will help keep you on track. It’s OK to reevaluate these objectives from time to time, but they should be there.
Your actions should be governed not just by tasks but by the idea of where you are going, the long-term plan, the distant horizon.
Turning new ideas into action
It is essential to capture ideas faithfully (capture the spirit of a pure desire). The evaluation comes later both by linking into the existing set and evaluating it for feasibility and resource requirements.
The objective is to maintain the coherence of the current plan but also to give yourself the opportunity to have new ideas that you could implement.
Get them down, put them into Evernote, then come back to them later, evaluate them and pull them together into an overall project plan.
Business is about evolving, so whatever ideas you retain, throw away or don’t use, the ideas that you implement will help your business to grow.
Some items may remain unused because the timing was wrong, the resources were unavailable, a solution was not found, or perhaps more analysis was required. But you will be able to find these unused items in your library later.
My Planner in Ayoa implements The Funnel.
My planner in Ayoa is an opportunity to juggle tasks around, focusing on the important and urgent priorities and determine what you should be doing Now, Next and Soon.
Consider using My Planner in Ayoa to implement this idea to prepare your backlog and yet focus on the Now.
Use a Kanbanote dashboard
See here a description of how to use a kanbanote dashboard to filter and focus on Evernotes that you tag for action. Use tags current, next, soon and waiting to focus both on all Evernote for action and individual projects.
Brainstorm and structure projects and everyday work.
The brainstorm and structure cycle describes several types of management document: issue lists, to-do lists, process and concept maps which may interact.
How do you manage the vast flows of information in your company and capitalise on the creative juices of people?
Are there sufficient mechanisms for harvesting ideas and turning them into actions to track and evaluate over time?
The objective is to manage ideas, starting with raw ideas to a structured action list.
Brainstorm and Structure
You may subject ideas to thinking constraints to find a solution to an observation. Alternatively, think freely to analyse how things fit together and determine strategy. Innovation is about bringing the brainstorming and free thought into the mainstream planning cycle.
Brainstorming and mindmapping techniques may rely on software or not. Each level may be more or less structured and more or less related to other items: link documents and items with common identifiers, such as by using tags in Evernote or linked identifiers.
Process maps establish graphical strategy-level plans to show sequences of events. They are similar to fish bone diagrams, showing time sequence from left to right.
The strategy document is a readable document which brings together a wide range of items into a coherent strategy. It requires fleshing out into operational plans.
The central principle is to note observations, with an observed or actual cause, a solution and a conclusion. It is possible to phrase problems initially without an apparent answer. Sometimes actions are solutions without a clearly stated problem.
A to-do list should remain operational, relatively short term. Other documents may set down what needs to be done without necessarily fixing the timescale. Project plans may replace a to-do list.
Evernote is for free-form thinking. Tags link notes and enable navigation of a group of notes. Creativity needs the constraints of the issue list to become an action: observation, cause, solution, conclusion, and it’s hard to create this in open text.
Freeform and creatively stimulating mindmaps need structure to translate into real-world action.
Control the planning cycle with Plan Do Check Assess
Controlling the process can be eclectic and varied. To keep track, include issue numbers in strategy documents and Evernote to show that the process has gone full loop. Eliminate and merge duplicates.
Don’t forget the “Do” part of the cycle: the creative process requires action which creates change in the real world.