Talent Management? Project Management? It's all Idea Management
You have a revolutionary new idea.
It might be a new skill assessment method that will fix your company’s broken talent management process. Perhaps your idea is for a new project management framework that will change how your whole company operates. Maybe your idea is
a whole new company. So what is your idea, anyway?
Your idea's success will depend on how well you answer this question when someone asks it. In other words: The success of your idea depends on your ability to communicate it -- after all, every effort to develop the idea will start with this initial communication. Furthermore, communicating the idea is critical at every stage of its development, whether you're getting management buy-in, building and aligning your team, or getting customers to invest time and money.
We get asked the "What is your idea?" question all the time. Below is the framework we use to create our answer.
Our framework for answering this question grew out of many conversations with stakeholders of various types: end-users, team members, and validators. The amazing thing is that no matter who the stakeholder was, the conversation was always nearly the same. Below is a mock transcript from such conversation:
- Stakeholder: Ok, i have 15 minutes between meetings. What is your idea?
- Us: Sagepoint is an online tool that matches every resource to the project that best fits their unique skillset. The result is a workforce completely aligned with your business goals. That's our motto -- optimize your workforce.
- Stakeholder: Oh, matching people and jobs. That's like [online resume job site].
- Us: Not quite. Those tools help you place someone in a job, but we pick up where they leave off -- SagePoint enables you to match resources to projects in real-time.
- Stakeholder: Oh, managing projects. That's like [project management tool].
- Us: Not quite. Project management tools pick up where we leave off -- SagePoint will staff that project with the optimum combination of resources. We do that by measuring and analyzing employee data like skill assessment metrics, availability, geography, and billing rate.
- Stakeholder: Oh, employee metrics tracking. That's like [hr management tool].
- Us: No, not quite. We don't perform typical HR functions like payroll and time tracking. However, we leverage HR data plus other information to perform our core function -- matching every resource to the right project, or workforce optimization.
- Stakeholder: Oh, data aggregation and processing. That's like [Enterprise Resource Planning tool].
- ...and so on.
The General Case
If the details from the above conversation are stripped away, a general process emerges:
- You position the idea.
- The stakeholder positions your idea relative to similar ideas.
- You correct their position with more information.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until everyone understands one another.
The key to this process is for the stakeholder to build an accurate understanding of your idea by comparing it to familiar ideas. That understanding is built on three things:
- what your idea is,
- what it isn't,
- how it connects to existing products and processes.
The intersection of these three things will succinctly define your idea and inform your responses to stakeholders' questions. A few notes:
Please share your approach to idea communication and answering the "What do you do? question below.
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