Every change or development starts from an 'idea', whether it is a proposal for a better way to manage costs, develop a new system, create a product launch, or position a brand.
There are a lot of ideas out there. Still, many ideas get lost in the corporate maze without a clear structure that can be easily understood and linked back to the broader organisational direction.
Therefore, the question becomes, 'how should I frame my idea and what should be considered?'
The main by-product of change is a risk, and the antidote to risk for many people you are persuading is to ask for more information or, as a last resort, say 'no'.
Failure to reconcile all the views within an organisation will always result in a retreat into well-trodden paths of disputes, stalemate and indecision, resulting in a lost opportunity. This is just human behaviour and exists in virtually every organisation.
No matter where you are, you will experience and observe different approaches to try and break through the corporate net.
The machine gunner:
Highly creative people try to batter the net by overwhelming them with ideas that come thick and fast. This simply achieves mass confusion and a general uneasiness for the organisation and then frustration from the person trying to effect change. Some of the ideas may be the answer. Still, without the anchoring them to the organisation, everyone loses, and not only do great opportunities go to waste, but the person who can direct significant change simply leaves.
You know this person, well-liked, charismatic, and persuasive. It looks fantastic; the presentation is slick and polished, but a poor idea is oversold without the work being done because it has not been thoroughly thought through. This will result in the organisation having to rework or abandon initiatives altogether, costing time, money, and reputation. At worst, sometimes a company will continue to throw more good money at bad to save face.
The data dumper:
Just passing the volume test does not mean that decision will be made. The opposite is usually true. More methodical people recognise the corporate net and know they must manage all the different stakeholders. They will collect all the assessable information and throw the entire body of data at people in an inaccessible, confusing and overwhelming way. This obscures the idea and doesn't allow for the varying attention spans that will always exist.
Most plans fail because they don't merit a decision. A fault in the analysis, not everything is considered, stakeholder questions are not considered and worst of all, solutions proposed are not capable of being implemented.
Your recipients don't have clear information on which to make a decision. They are thinking, "why are they proposing this?"
This always comes back to the absence of a common framework for structuring proposals.
Navigating this maze and ensuring that what you can see is the right path always comes back to some key points that should always guide a strategist's approach:
1. What is the entity under review? - what defines the edges of what we must consider and why. This ring-fences the relevant information for our plan. An analysis of banking would be very broad, covering every aspect globally. In contrast, if the entity were NZ-based neo bank opportunities, much of the information if we started with ‘banking’ would be redundant.
2. What is the aim or mission guiding the overarching context for the individual problem that we are focusing on - this ensures that whatever we are doing links back to the broader focus of the organisation.
3. What are the pre-set measurable objectives that we need to achieve? These are the steps towards achieving the aim or mission.
4. What are the company values – don’t ignore people's values or principles because understand tone is key for connecting.
5. Define where you are, where you were and where you plan to be – This is about covering relevant information that ladders up to your entity under review. Cover areas such as your business setting, successes, and strengths. Place your interpretation on this information and link together the relevant parts that ladder up to story that guides your audience
6. Describe change, complications, and consequences. These are the reasons that you are preparing this plan. This is the story, and each point demands some action or has implications for your aim or mission if nothing changes.
A well-formed story brings the recipient to the answer before you have even finished. This is the skill and the art, however, a 'Key Question' is needed to clarify and point to the solution. This is the fulcrum of your entire proposal.
"A problem well-defined is a problem half solved."
Once your Key Question has been found, everything falls into place. The answers and actions will be apparent, and creativity will flow safely in the knowledge that the critical areas of responsibility are being addressed.