Vivanti Lightning Talks offer a 5-minute take on challenges faced by professionals within the modern data-focused cloud consulting sector.

A relative concept

So, we all know that in the workplace, the best idea doesn’t always win. This Vivanti Lightning Talk will outline how ‘best’ is a relative concept in the context of achieving work outcomes, and how to get more of your ideas broadly accepted as the desired path forward – by colleagues, clients and partners.

Download the presentation slides.

‘Vision without execution is hallucination’ (Thomas Edison)

I’ve always found the historical AC vs DC battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla fascinating. And, this early case study in competing technology ideas in a business setting is particularly relevant to today’s discussion. Edison invented DC, or the Direct Current method of electricity generation. But, DC had unavoidable drawbacks. It could not be transmitted over long distances, without losing a lot of energy. Plus, as DC runs at a constant rate, supplying different voltages requires separately installed lines, making it even more expensive.

Tesla’s Alternating Current method, known as AC, solved these issues, by making the flow of electricity reverse direction dozens of times per second. But, Edison won the initial electricity war of the late 1800’s. So, the best ideas aren’t enough just on their own.

So, what can we learn from this story, and how can you advocate for your ideas so that they win the contest of ideas more often?

5 steps to success

Today, I’ll take you through five key steps to remember when developing and communicating your ideas:

Mao may have got a few things wrong, the 5-point plan wasn’t one of them….

  • We’ll start-off by looking at why ‘best’ is contextual
  • We’ll then look at the role emotions play in decision-making
  • We’ll outline why timing is always important
  • We’ll explain why pragmatism is better than perfection
  • And, we’ll finish by explaining why nothing beats good-old-fashioned elbow-grease

1. ‘Best’ is contextual

The concept of ‘best’ does not exist in a vacuum, especially in business. So, you need to always consider what’s best in terms of your context – the situation, the mood, your audience, the appetite for risk, and how your idea fits into the broader picture or set of priorities.

One element of trust matters most
Your ideas, in its purest form, may need tweaking to ensure it remains relevant and suited to the particular mission. You need to be willing to modify and evolve your thinking as the situation changes and evolves too. And, without needlessly compromising on the purity of your ideas, you do need to ensure you’re not acting with blinkers on. It’s worth sense-checking your ideas from multiple perspectives to ensure it makes as much sense as you hope it does.

2. Humans are emotive (so advocate with conviction)

While your ideas need to be well-grounded in facts and practicality, you need to remember that coming-up with an idea, and advocating for it, are two separate things.

Poisoning the well
Once it’s clear your ideas are based-upon sound logic, people will generally be persuaded through emotions. So, argue passionately for your ideas. Because, if you’re not passionate about your ideas, how can you expect other people to be?

3. Timing is everything

But, no matter how good your idea; and no matter how good your arguments for it, if your time is off, the opportunity to win the contest of ideas can be easily lost.

You need to be able to, both literally and figuratively, read-the-room. You might have an amazing idea but, if you’re fighting against the tide, or short-lived immediate need that competes for attention, then you’ll likely fail.
But, remember, barring an imminent priority, threat or disaster that sucks the air out of the room, acting early is always preferable. First-mover advantage enables you to set-the-agenda and create a positive first impression.

4. Perfect is the enemy of done

Putting-in the required work to ensure your ideas a good is non-negotiable. But, it also pays to know when to stop.

Because, after all, your ideas aren’t worth much if you keep them to yourself. In short, you do need to be willing to compromise on your completeness of vision in order to get things done. I’m not advocating that you put the cart before the horse, but you do need to ensure the train leaves the station on time.

5. The harder you work…

Above all else, there’s simply no substitute for putting-in the hard yards…

So put effort and time into the three main facets of your ideas:

  • Developing the ideas themselves
  • Determining how to best explain your ideas
  • Deciphering how to best advocate for your ideas

Where to next?

It’s my hope that you’ll take these five points, and use them to create a robust framework for building, explaining and advocating for your ideas.

And, with any luck, your ideas won’t remain a wish, but will instead turn into action.

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