Turning Your Thoughts Into Action

If you are like most CEOs I know your head is overflowing with many new and exciting ideas. New products. Sales promotions. Program enhancements. Innovative equipment. Better customer engagement.

There are also not so exciting things in your head. Worries about cash flow. Increasing the margin on sales. Managing inventory and overstock items. Poor quality and warranty issues. Increasing service and delivery complaints. Bad Yelp® ratings.

The most frustrating part is being unable to turn those thoughts into action.

Here is a three- step process that I’ve used myself (and with my clients). I call it the Discipline of the 3 C’s.

  • CLARITY in the idea,
  • CONSISTENCY in communication, and
  • COMMITMENT to its execution.

CLARITY. First, get the ideas out of your head. Ideas in your mind are amorphous – they twist and turn and change every time you think about them (and sometimes even while you are thinking about them).  Write them down. I use a 2 to 3 page bulleted PowerPoint. Getting it down on paper congeals the idea. It records your thoughts so you don’t forget them, and produces a vehicle to share your idea with others.

CONSISTENCY. Finding consistency is a process. Talk about the idea with others. Don’t dissect it. Just present it at first. This first step is only about clarifying the idea in your mind. As you put your idea into words you make decisions about how to describe it, which gives it solidity. Use a whiteboard any draw it as a diagram. This gives the idea form. Take a picture of the whiteboard so you can review it later. Then when you’ve drawn the same diagram three times in a row the idea has matured and become consistent enough to add structure around it. Now is the time to share it with your entire leadership team.

COMMITMENT. Commitment requires a plan. Sometimes it is tempting to skip the plan and just force the idea into the organization (fueled by excitement and impatience). There is no need to prioritize the idea with existing work, or adjust budgets or time schedules because it can just be slipped in. After all, it just takes a couple of hours here and there. People can be taken off what they are doing to work on the idea.

In other words, bring the idea through the organization’s “front door.“ Sneaking stuff through the “back door”, no matter how exciting or how great the potential is a bad idea. It is disrespectful. And demoralizing.

Commit to the idea by creating a plan with your leadership team tells the organization the idea is just as important as sales. And manufacturing. And distribution. And customer service. And financials. And HR.

So treat the implementation of the idea with importance. Budget the plan. Define goals, milestones, progress measurements, and performance metrics. Resource the plan.  This gives your leadership team ownership and communicates that the execution of the idea is fundamental, not a “one off.” Everyone is on the same page with the same priorities.

Now go for it! Action time!


“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

– John F. Kennedy

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