Bright Idea: Opportunity or Distraction?

Bright Idea!
Bright Idea!

Are you creative? Do you employ creative people? I like dealing with creative people, but we all know people who are always seduced by the next shiny thing they see. What do you do when someone comes up with a “bright idea”, a new way of doing things part way through a project? Do you adopt it or not?

This is one of those situations where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

What are the issues:

I expect that we want to achieve our objective and we want to do this efficiently.

  • We want to continue to make progress.
  • The “bright idea” may cause an improvement or it may not.
  • Implementing the idea will inevitably cause some disruption.
  • Even assessing the idea will cost some effort.

So, what should we do? – Change Management

The answer to our dilemma is to have some version of “Change Management”. We need to capture the “bright idea” and then assess whether it will actually help us and then, if appropriate, introduce it in a controlled way. We should also have some kind of back-out plan, so that if the proposed change doesn’t have the beneficial effect we hope for, then we can revert to doing things the old way.

The question is, “how do we do that?”

My suggested way of handling this situation:

First of all, you an agreed “Change Management” (in this case “suggestion management”) process. I  prefer it to be as light-weight as possible. This should:

  • Capture the idea, so that it is not lost, even if it is rejected or not implemented immediately.
  • Encourage people, so they know their ideas are being considered.

Ideas should be assessed quickly, but without disrupting productive activity.

Here are some questions which will help you decide whether to adopt a suggestion and when to adopt it:

  • Can we continue to work doing things the current way? If so, perhaps we should defer assessing the change.
  • widespread is the effect of the change? Changes with widespread effects need to be considered more carefully.
  • Is there an obvious way of “backing out” the change?
  • Do the benefits offered by the bright idea justify the effort and risk to implement it?

Agile project management offers opportunities to incorporate change management and adopt bright ideas in a controlled way.

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