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Decision Making: Narrow Down the Decision

decision making innovation Aug 24, 2022

Innovation is surfacing ideas, expanding on them, evaluating them, deciding what to try out, taking action, evaluating the experiments, and generating more ideas to make it better or do it differently. This cyclical process that is at the heart of innovation that leads to more thoughtful decisions with a greater chance of achieving the goals you’ve set.

As you move from ideating your innovative approaches toward making a decision you’ve probably already been narrowing down to the ideas that have survived the process. Narrowing that down to a decision involves checking out the viability of each idea.

As you narrow it down to an idea or two, add some HOW questions to the WHAT and WHO questions we discussed in the last blog. Think of evaluating your HOW in three categories: evaluating potential for impact, capacity for implementation and willingness to change.

Evaluate Potential For Impact

An idea isn't worth the time and effort if it won’t accomplish what you set out to do. For those who love new ideas, it can be easy to “launch” into a new thing without properly assessing if it is the right thing. So, start by asking more questions about the impact of your top idea or two. It might help with a tie breaker if you have more than one good idea. Start with these questions:

  • HOW does this idea address the problem or challenge we’ve observed?
  • HOW will we know if this idea has been successful?
  • HOW will this idea make an impact in the next six months?

Evaluate Capacity To Execute

Just because we have a challenge to address and an idea that will address it doesn’t always mean we have the time, resources, energy, personnel and money to execute the idea. Before you say “yes” to the idea, ask a few questions to verify you are able to implement a new idea or approach:

  • HOW will our constraints limit your ability to implement this idea?
  • HOW will we stop or change what we are doing to create capacity for this idea?
  • If we are limited on time and money, HOW can we take a first step or phase one?

Evaluate Willingness To Change

Take a pulse of the team. How willing are they to implement change? Any new idea, any innovation cycle will involve changing behaviors, patterns, activities, etc. Check in with people along the way about their readiness for change. Before you dive in, assess: the “pain” of the problem enough to ignite the fire of change? Is the opportunity good enough to take a leap into the unknown? Here’s a few check in questions for you:

  • HOW will our challenge evolve if we do nothing?
  • HOW important is it for us to address this challenge/opportunity right now?
  • HOW do you know you have what you need to take action on the idea? 

What’s next …. 

Once you’ve debated the what and why of your ideas and narrowed down the HOW of executing the idea . . . you’re probably ready to take some action! However, what if you and your team get stuck in the deciding and never take action? 

At times, decision making roles are unclear, the decision will involve some kind of “fall out” people want to avoid or some may get overwhelmed by decision fatigue. Before we dive in on how to take action on the decisions you make, let’s talk in the next blog about what to do if you get stuck in deciding. 

What questions come to mind for you that help you and your team evaluate ideas? Add your WHAT, WHY, and HOW questions below!







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