Questions to Ask Before Adding Something New – Part I

One of my favorite sayings about idea generation is as follows: Every good idea eventually degenerates into work! That is so true. In organizational life, great ideas require the time and energy of team members to prepare, promote, implement, and maintain. You need to ask some questions prior to the investment to maximize the likelihood of success or effectiveness. Begin by recognizing three myths about new ideas:

  • If the idea is new, it will work.
  • If the idea is creative, it will work.
  • If prominent organizations or churches are doing it, it will work.

I have seen so many ideas flounder in my years of leadership simply because the thinking was that newness, creativity, or what turned out to be an anecdotal success story were indicators of a “no miss” idea. When an idea does take root and flourish, it Is not because it is new, creative, or because it worked somewhere else. It is important to ask the right questions before implementing a new idea. The answers can save headaches, false starts, failures, and wasted effort. Here are the first two with others to follow next week:

  1. How will the new idea help you to accomplish your purpose? I served as a student pastor for over a decade. I often received requests and suggestions that the group conduct fundraising activities for a variety of needs ranging from cancer research to assistance of wounded veterans. These causes are certainly compelling and worthy of the time of volunteers. However, I never allowed these types of ideas to take root. Why not? It was outside the scope of the ministry that I was called to lead. The purpose of the ministry was to make disciples with an emphasis on evangelism and spiritual development of teenagers. While it may have been a good idea, it was not a good idea for the ministry I was called to lead. Effective leaders only accept and generate ideas that are consistent with the purpose of the group or ministry.
  2. What is your process? Some ideas need to be vetted through others. In your organization or church, does the idea need the approval or consent of anyone else? Is there an executive leader who needs to sign off on it? Is there a team that you are accountable to? If so, how do you get their permission or affirmation? How do you present the idea to them? How is your relationship with them? That really matters because the better the personal relationship, the greater the trust, and in turn the faster and more likely the idea can move forward. The process can also add accountability and perhaps enhancement to the idea. Some ideas will work best with an overwhelming “buy in” from the members of the organization. How will you make that happen? What is the process?

The point of this is not to “throw cold water” on your ideas. The point is to get you prepared for success. Anybody can have an idea. It takes an effective leader to make it happen. Check back next week as I share four other important questions to ask before adding something new.