No matter what field you are in, you probably find yourself contemplating ideas to help improve your organization. These ideas may come from you or from others on your team. Regardless of whether it was yours or not, it is a great feeling to see something go from a concept or idea thrown out in a meeting to something you can see or experience - especially if the idea works!
So, what steps can you take to see a good idea come to fruition? In this article, Dr. Tony Garza explains the importance of evaluation to ensure it’s actually a “good idea.” From there, he explains why it’s crucial to question the idea’s purpose, relevance to your organization, and timing throughout the process of its execution.
It is no secret that it takes a process to see an idea through to completion. There are countless resources on this topic, and they all have some type of process that includes certain steps for this. Most of these include the idea or concept, planning, strategy, and execution. The specific word and arrangement may be different, but most include a version of these steps. You may have your own way of doing this and it may be formal or informal, but it is a process that you follow whether on purpose or by default.
Here’s a question for you:
“What is more difficult – coming up with ideas or executing them?”
At a recent leadership talk I attended; the speaker asked this question. And the response? Far more attendees believed that execution is more difficult. This is why having a process in place is important. In this article, I want to focus on the importance of evaluation as part of the process. I have seen ideas not work, not because they were bad ideas, but because there was no room for evaluation throughout the process.
Evaluation asks critical questions at each part of the process. Questions such as:
1. Is this a good (idea, plan, strategy), and why?
2. Is this the best (idea, plan, strategy) for what we are trying to accomplish?
3. Is this the right time for this (idea, plan, strategy)?
I can’t stress this enough:
"A good idea executed at the wrong time is a bad idea."
Once an idea is presented and evaluated, it seems that often the next logical step is to begin planning. Planning gives you the road map for how the idea will be executed.
But, here is where it gets tricky.
Many jump from planning to execution, but I would like to propose that you need a process of evaluation in between. Why? Because whereas planning gives you the road map, evaluation tells you where you’re at.
You should be evaluating your idea throughout each step of the process. As a result, your process should actually look more like this:
Idea - Evaluation - Planning - Evaluation - Strategy - Evaluation - Execution - Evaluation
Pastor Andy Stanley said it this way:
“A map is useless if you don’t know where you’re at.”
I had never really thought about it that way, but I think he’s right. How will you know which way to go or where you should start?
I came across this thought when reading the story of Nehemiah in the bible. Nehemiah hears that the city of Jerusalem is in ruins and God puts it in his heart to rebuild the wall. However, he doesn’t go straight to the planning stage. In chapter 2 verse 13 we find Nehemiah out at night “examining” the walls. He already knows that he wants to rebuild the walls (idea), but first, he evaluates the damage so that he can make an accurate and effective plan. Even within the rebuilding (execution) stage, we find Nehemiah evaluating again and making adjustments in chapter 4 verse 14. Many times, you will find yourself adjusting the strategy after evaluating it.
You can read the rest of the story for yourself and find that he comes up with a great plan and strategy that results in great execution and results. It is important to note that no matter how great the idea or the process, prayer, like evaluation, should be present at every stage.
Do you have a project or idea that God has put on your heart? I recommend you add "evaluation" as part of the process.
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