Creating passion for someone else's idea


Putting heads together around one person's idea

requires a coalition of the willing.

Collaboration relies on people's willingness to work on original ideas for which they don't claim credit. Without the inherent feeling of ownership over the original idea, how do you then build the enthusiasm of a team to carry one idea forward?

A Commitment Path model (details here) can help get you there:

Stage 1: Awareness (What ideas are out there?) - Members of the evaluation team need to spend the time reading ideas and comments, becoming aware of their contents. Without this crucial, admittedly basic stage, it is impossible to elicit any kind of later-stage commitment. Awareness covers the understanding of a specific idea or set of ideas, and being aware of the fit of the idea with the overall program objectives, compared to other ideas in the system.

Stage 2: Internalization (What might this idea mean for me?) - Once an individual has become aware of a series of ideas, they need to think about them in the context of the specific project goals, the overall business unit goals, and their own personal goals. There is a mapping process that goes on in an individual's head as they reflect on the content they have read, and mentally fit an idea into one box or another. At this point, they are not ready to commit, but can at least see how an idea might fit into their global jigsaw puzzle.

Stage 3: Twist, Defend and Persuade (How can I modify the idea? How can I defend it from criticism? How can I be sure I will be allowed to move it forward?) - This three-pronged approach is really where the individual takes the idea under his or her own wing, nurtures it, grows it, and ultimately feels responsible for its future.

  • Twist - The evaluator uses this as an opportunity to add some personal twist to improve the underlying concept. Sometimes it can be a small change, such as coming up with a new name for the concept.
  • Defend - Our research has found that an individual needs to be challenged in some way about the idea, to defend the idea against criticism from a colleague or group, or to argue its merit amongst competing concepts.
  • Persuade - After these two activities, an individual is probably comfortable about the idea itself. However, they know that all ideas need to be integrated into a business in order to be realized, and that the integration process requires buy-in and support from others. At this stage, the individual turns to a boss, senior management, or other potential supporters who would be needed to realize the idea. The goal now is to persuade others to support their personal commitment to the idea, or to agree not to put up any roadblocks.

Stage 4: Commitment (What resources and support do I get to implement the idea now?) - In most evaluation processes, there is a point toward the end when a decision needs to be made on what will happen next. Sometimes there is a team meeting to gather consensus around action items. Some processes are more leadership-driven, whereby the top ideas are selected and blessed by an obvious first-among-equals. Either way, if an idea involves changing the status quo, a decision is made at some point to move on a different track.

Fortunately, the pre-work done in the earlier stages makes committing to an idea much easier to do. By and large, members of the decision-making team are aware of the alternatives considered, and trust the fact that a diligent process has taken place. If the leader of the review team has hand-picked the evaluators with the intent of delegating implementation ownership amongst the team, this pre-work means that the top ideas that are presented at this stage can often be quickly blessed for implementation - sometimes with a little twist of the leaders' own devices (they are human too and experience the same four-step process).

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