Turn Ideas Into Reality in 4 Steps

Most organizations know that in order to grow and be an industry leader, they have to continually innovate and undertake key projects that lead to growth. Unfortunately, many companies do so in a haphazard or non-strategic way.

Here’s what typically happens: Leaders keep saying yes as various projects and ideas are presented to them for investment. They say yes until they run out of resources. The projects and ideas first on the list get funded in contrast to the best of all ideas across the organization. The sad truth is the early bird does get the worm. As a result, they waste money and resources, lose momentum, and then wonder why they never achieve their strategic goals.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a proven approach that enables leaders and decision makers to make a greater contribution to the business, activate the strategic plan, achieve the desired balance, and optimize allocation of limited resources. Here are the four things you need to get right in order to make better decisions so you can maximize your dealership’s growth.

1. Define your strategy

Before your dealership can undertake any new initiative, you first have to identify your strategy. In other words, who are you and what do you want to do? Unless you know this information, it’s difficult if not impossible to move forward in a productive way.

While most companies have a general idea of their strategy based on their vision or mission statement, often it’s not focused enough to translate into specific strategic goals. For example, you as a dealer, offer power equipment parts for sale in your dealership. How do you grow? You could offer mobile parts sales to all customers. That will quickly drain your resources.

A better approach is to define a specific strategy for growth. For instance, you may want to just offer this service to commercial customers who maintain their own equipment fleets in-house. That way, you would sell more parts in fewer stops.


2. Generate ideas

Armed with your strategy, you can now generate ideas that support the strategy. Some people call this step innovation or creative brainstorming. Whatever you call it, the goal is to come up with possible options for advancing the strategy.

If your strategy is to offer mobile parts service to contractor customers, generate ideas to fit this goal/strategy. Generate ideas for what parts to deliver, how to deliver the parts (vehicle and route), to which customers, and who would do the delivering.

3. Prioritize and select the best ideas

The next step is to select the ideas for each of those areas that are best for the company to pursue and will advance the strategy. As you do the prioritization and selection process, you need to ask two key questions.

The first question is: "Will this deliver our strategic goal?" If the answer is no, then you have to do something different. Either you alter your strategic expectation or your ideas. Keep going through these iterations until you can say: "Yes, our portfolio has the potential to deliver our strategy". Remember, at this point you’re simply assessing whether the portfolio will meet your strategic goals. You’re not assessing whether it’s something you actually could do.

Once you agree that the portfolio of ideas and projects will help you meet your strategic goal, the second question to ask is, “Do we have the resources (time, money, people, equipment, etc.) to do this?” If the answer is yes, then celebrate and move on to step four. If the answer is no, then you need to circle back and solve the equation. Can you lower your strategic goals? Can you generate bigger, better ideas? Can you add resources? Change the timing? Scale back the idea? Once you have a portfolio that allows you to say yes to both questions, you’ve completed the prioritization and selection process.

4. Execute ideas

Finally, it’s time to take action and actually execute your ideas. This is where project management comes into play. As you execute each step to support the strategy, outline the detailed activities needed to complete the project on time and on budget. Assign key people to be responsible for each role, and establish checkpoints so you know if the project goes off track.

The more thoroughly you manage the execution, the more success you will have. No matter what industry you’re in, long-term business growth depends on these four things: strategy, idea generation, project selection and execution. When you take the time to implement this process in your company, not only will you make better strategy decisions, but you’ll also achieve the breakthrough results that achieve your ultimate goal.

Michael Menard is the author of “A Fish in Your Ear: The New Discipline of Project Portfolio Management,” and cofounder and president of The GenSight Group, which provides enterprise portfolio management solutions for strategic planning, project portfolio management and business performance optimization. To learn more, visit afishinyourear.com.