The SHRM Annual Conference (#SHRM17) ended last week, but the hard work of translating your inspiration and ideas into action is just beginning.
All too often we are tempted to take on many initiatives at once. We find ourselves, rightly so, by the sessions we attended and the people we met at conferences like #SHRM17 and we are eager to challenge the status quo.
I’m here to tell you that I’m inspired too. I’m just as ready to take on the world of work and HR as you are. But I think there’s a smarter way to go about it. A way that won’t overwhelm you or your colleagues and that will give YOU the best opportunity for success.
It’s about having the right approach.
Here are three steps to implementing your action items from #SHRM17:
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Step 1: Idea Generation
If you’re anything like me, you have a TON of notes from the sessions you attended. If you didn’t take notes, or if you find your notes lacking, you will need to do a little more work, but this is still doable.
Review your notes, and jot down any actionable ideas that still stick with you. The passage of a few days will have helped you determine which ideas still truly resonate from the rest. If you don’t have notes, do a quick brainstorm to recall the ideas or actions you were inspired to take.
Think about the sessions you attended and the people you met. What were you inspired by? What made you think? When did you find yourself thinking about changing yourself, your team, or your organization? What tasks or projects can you generate from these moments?
Don’t worry about editing your list of ideas yet (there’s a time and a place for that). Jot down as many as you can. Give yourself time to let the ideas come to you; don’t be afraid to let this process play out over a few hours or days as you work on other things. The key here is to CAPTURE your ideas.
Step 2: Select JUST 2-3 to Work On
I’ll be honest here. I think you should start with ONE idea, not two or three. Working on one idea allows you focus, and vastly increases the chances that you will be successful because you are not spreading yourself among several initiatives (remember, you still have all your normal work to maintain). But, I know that an experience like #SHRM17 tends to inspire people, and it only comes along once a year or even less than that for some.
To narrow the list of ideas you generated to two or three (no more), borrow the concept of feasibility, desirability, and viability from design thinking.
IDEO pioneered design thinking as a means of creating a reliable framework to generate and test ideas. Part of this framework requires understanding the needs of potential customers and your ability to see the idea through to fruition.
In our case, we’ll use desirability, feasibility, and viability a little differently.
Do you WANT to pursue this idea? This is a matter of degree. Here, we’re looking to determine which ideas you are most enthusiastic about because it vastly increases the chances that you will see it through to the end.
Here, we want to think about how likely it is that your idea will be adopted. Let’s face it; sometimes great ideas meet great opposition depending on the nature of the idea and its timing. We want our initial work to be relatively feasible because even an imperfect solution is better than no solution. The key here is to get started, and secure a (relatively) easy win!
Will it last? Will you, your team, your organization be able to support your idea for the long haul? If the answer is no, then you run the risk of spending time and effort on an initiative that will come and go. To prevent this, we want to ensure our ideas have a degree if viability to them.
Your strongest ideas will be at the intersection of all three:
Depending on the nature of your ideas, you can determine which 2-3 meet this test a number of ways. You might find it easiest to narrow ideas using the criteria above by gut feel, or by methodically eliminating the ideas that don’t quite meet the criteria. In other cases it may be helpful to create a spreadsheet and individually rate each idea to get a ranking.
Don’t get stuck on the particulars of exactly how to rate your ideas. What matters most is that you do it. Focus on narrowing your list so that you can have a healthy place to start your work!
Step 3: Build Momentum
With your list in place, build a plan to execute on the 2-3 ideas that are each the most desirable, most feasible, and most viable. Because you’ve taken the time to narrow your long list of ideas to a few that have a distinct advantage when it comes to implementation, you are already ahead of the game.
Use the power of focus to work your way through this list. Stick with it; you will need the momentum you build in this initial round of ideas to carry you through when you embark on your more ambitions, perhaps more risky ventures.
Use your early victories to build trust in your ability to deliver on your initiatives, and to gain the practical skill and knowledge it will take to be a force for change long after the excitement of #SHRM17 wears off.
With the right approach, you have the opportunity to truly change your life, your team, and your organization for the better.
What do you think? What are your ideas for making the most if the lessons learned from #SHRM17?