How to Make a Good Idea Great

make good idea great

Does your organisation struggle with taking on new ideas?

In this blog post, I will show you how the organisation I work for have started to take good ideas and get stuff done. The organisation I work for is Knightstone Housing. I wrote an article about why medium sized companies struggle with project management. Knightstone Housing is not one of the stuck medium sized companies due to a new way that they take on new ideas. I will share how Knightstone Housing is moving to a getting stuff done approach.

The structure of this blog post is first how Knightstone takes great ideas and moves them forward. This article will split into two sections. The first section is 5 Questions to Understand the Great Idea. The second section is 8 Steps from Idea to Solution Design. By the end of this article, you will understand how Knightstone is getting stuff done. After reading, you can copy elements of the approach for your organisation.

Too often projects get stuck at the deciding whether the project is worthwhile stage. Click To Tweet

Knightstone has established champions throughout the organisation. These are people who are key to the implementation of successful change. They are managers who have a great understanding of how their team works and would like to work in the future. These champions work with project teams to bring about change to the organisation. If anyone across the organisation has a great idea, they raise it with their champion. Their champion will be able to see if this idea is a new idea or like something that is in development. The role of the champion is to confirm the ideas and submit the good ones. Each new idea goes on the great idea list.

The Knightstone Project Management Office (PMO) looks after the great idea list. The team use Microsoft Planner to hold the list and by adding an item creates a ticket. Individuals are able to go into each ticket and add further information. It is also possible to attach relevant documents. Team members are also able to have conversations about each item inside the ticket. This reduces the amount of emails and provides visibility to other team members. With each new idea ticket, a member of the PMO will gather some more information about the idea. The PMO team member will meet with the person who had the initial idea, the requester.

5 Questions to Understand the Great Idea

To understand the great idea the PMO team member will ask five questions. The aim of the questions is to establish why this is such a great idea.

Question 1 – What is the problem that the idea needs to fix?
Is the idea to take advantage of a new opportunity? If so then the aim is find why Knightstone is not able to do so. This is a high level statement and does not include too much detail.

Question 2 – What is the impact of the problem?
This question helps improve understanding about the size and scale of the problem. By doing this there is an appreciation for how great an idea it is.

Question 3 – Who does the problem affect?
For example is the problem affecting staff, existing customers or new customers? Understanding who will help shape the successful outcome.

Question 4 – What would a successful outcome look like?
Often when people have a great idea they also have an idea of what the finished product will look like. By understanding what they have in mind is a great way to understand the idea.

Question 5 – What is the benefit?
The last question is about what benefit the idea would bring. Knowing that for example it would save staff time so they can do other things will bring the idea to life. Giving something a purpose and why it is worth doing gives motivation to do the idea.

From here the PMO has a good idea about what is driving the idea. Depending on what came out from the 5 questions affects the next step. If there is enough information for a solution then the idea moves to the design phase.

If not then a Business Analyst will gather some high level requirements. The purpose of these is to gather enough information for the design of the solution. Once there is enough information the next step is the solution design.

8 Steps from Idea to Solution Design

The purpose of the solution is design is to identify different ways to solve the idea. Also included is an estimate of what each design will cost. There are 8 steps to go from idea to solution and these are:

Step 1 – Describe the solution
The first step is to describe what the proposed solution is and how it will solve the problem.

Step 2 – Draw the solution
The saying that a picture paints a thousand words is so true. This step is a drawing of the proposed solution option. In the same way an architect produces a drawing of how a proposed new house will look. The drawing could be anything that helps understand what the proposed solution is. It can be a diagram right through to a pictorial mock up.

Step 3 – Cost
With the solution described and drawn the third step is to state how much it will cost. The cost split is into both one off expenditure and any recurring payments

Step 4 – Impact
The fourth step is focusing on completion of the solution. The purpose of this step is to give advance notice to get ready for the solution. For example is a change to existing business processes needed. Would any current job roles need to change? Is there a need of any staff recruitment?

Step 5 – Issues and Risks
This step is looking at the implementation of the solution. Is there any potential problems to resolve first? For example is another piece of work needed first? If it is not done then will it cause the proposed solution a problem?

Step 6 – Pros and Cons
Step six is all about what the pros and cons are for solution option. Also if this is the recommended option included is the reasons why it is the best option.

Step 7 – Effort
A bit of guesswork comes with step 7 as this is about how much effort to put in place the solution. As this is very early in the project added to the total is a 20% contingency. For example if the proposed solution is to take 4 days then the stated effort is 5 days. The purpose of this estimate is not for planning purposes but used as a guide for which solution to choose.

Step 8 – Recommendation
The final step is only done if there is more than one solution option. The step is like an executive summary of the recommended solution. This step includes a brief description along with the total cost and effort. Then finally why it is the recommended solution.

By doing these steps which should take days rather than weeks. The result is Knightstone knows what it will take to turn the idea into reality.

The next step is a business case if the effort is large or there is significant expenditure required. This is for the senior management team to consider if this is an idea worthy of the large investment.

The aim is to keep projects as small as possible as the aim is to get stuff done quick and to a high standard. So it is only a few ideas that will need significant investment. The majority pass to the awaiting scheduling list.

In summary as soon as an idea is submitted there are 5 questions asked. These questions are:

Question 1 – What is the problem that the idea needs to fix?

Question 2 – What is the impact of the problem?

Question 3 – Who does the problem affect?

Question 4 – What would a successful outcome look like?

Question 5 – What is the benefit?

The purpose of these questions is to understand the idea and what is driving it. With an excellent understanding of the idea the next stage is to produce a variety of options to turn the idea into reality. There are 8 steps to take an idea to solution design and these are:

Step 1 – Describe the solution

Step 2 – Draw the solution

Step 3 – Cost

Step 4 – Impact

Step 5 – Issues and Risks

Step 6 – Pros and Cons

Step 7 – Effort

Step 8 – Recommendation

This is how Knightstone Housing is taking ideas and getting stuff done. Too often projects get stuck at the deciding whether the project is a worthwhile stage. Knightstone is keeping projects small with the focus on getting stuff done. In my next article, I will cover what Knightstone do next. The way ideas move from the awaiting scheduling list to the getting done stage.  I will cover how the project approach of Waterfall or Agile is decided.

I have also summarised the key points of Knightstone’s project management approach in a slideshow below. What do you think? Do you like the way Knightstone take on new ideas? It would be great to hear what you think, please leave a comment below.

Would you like to get your projects off to a great start? If so you can get a free project start up the template by following this link.

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.