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Resist Implementing Every Good Idea

“Resist Implementing Every Good Idea”

Excelling at just a few things can prove more profitable than continually adding to your product/service offerings.

Chaos Inc. (a real company but a fictitious name) made a profit of more than $1.2 million in 1998 and was ranked one of the 100 fastest-growing companies in Massachusetts. Every Monday morning the CEO meets with his managers, and the dialogue runs like this:

CEO:"Good morning. Over the weekend, I was thinking about adding a new division to complement our current services focus. Right now, we’re doing custom Web design; why not sell templates so small businesses can do it themselves?"
CEO:"Greg, you design the template. Joan, get the production costs. Karen, make up a marketing plan. And Jason, I want a list of potential clients by Wednesday."
Jason:"But Mr. Davis, we don’t have staff to support the new sales."
CEO:"Everyone can pitch in."
Joan:"Cash is tight. We need more clients to get our reserves up."
CEO:"You’re right. Let’s hire a new marketing person. Karen …"

You get the drift. This CEO is virtually incapable of formulating an idea, assessing its value and taking a pass if it’s not viable. In his book, every idea is doable — a dangerous attitude.

Continual, spontaneous idea implementation throws companies into chaos. Job descriptions get muddled; employees become resentful and often burn out; company direction is lost; and every task evolves into either a crisis or a deadline.

Nate Knight, president and CEO of MMI Inc., a digital communications and marketing company in Brewster, Mass., with 1998 revenues in excess of $500,000, values thoughtful implementation. "Our business focus has been narrowing ever since incorporation, which helps us stay on the right path," he explains. "You can make more money doing a few things great than you can trying to do everything."

Knight uses three criteria to determine an idea’s implementation potential:

  1. Run the numbers. Can we afford the money and the time?
  2. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken. Will this idea save time or money, or take time and money?
  3. Are there better alternatives? Think possibilities through with a more critical eye before wasting implementation time. This will slow down the runaway idea train.

If you just can’t seem to stop implementing, take steps to get your "urges" under control. No one’s trying to dampen your enthusiasm; it’s just important to have some boundaries.

  • Get out of urgency mode. Think ideas through, consult with those whom the plan will affect, and slow down. Create the highest-quality work possible and allow a proper time frame to accomplish your goals.
  • Don’t buy into every employee suggestion just to be the "good boss." You’ll create a "chaos machine" that feeds on itself and will be nearly impossible to stop.
  • Don’t be harsh when employees say they’re overloaded. Far too many outstanding employees have quit in utter frustration for this very reason. Do a regular reality check of your expectations.
  • Don’t move schedules up unless you have to. This only adds to the insanity factor and removes power from employees to control their own work.

But sometimes it’s tough to let an idea go — especially when it’s yours. "Like most people, I have a strong personal attachment to my own ideas and do take it personally when they are scrapped or rejected," Knight says. "Scrapping an idea can be hard, but hearing a good justification helps, as well as eliminating that ‘letting go’ feeling."

Writer: LeAnn Zotta is a strategic-marketing consultant in Yartsmouthport, Mass.