As the new academic year starts and committees get underway, I am always struck by the fear many have that they will be unable to generate enough ideas for the work ahead.  I believe that gathering ideas is the easy part; translating them into action is what takes work.

To facilitate that process, I like to lead participants through an Idea Funnel.

The top of the funnel represents Ideas.  Everyone will have far more ideas than actions; that is actually the point.  The goal is to generate new thoughts through talking with constituents, conducting surveys, having discussions at meetings or linking personal experiences.

Then ideas are narrowed in a process of Refinement.  This occurs through research, cost estimates, vetting the idea with constituents and doing background work to assess the true pros and cons of a shorter list of ideas.

Following Refinement comes the process of the Proposal, where the multitude of ideas is narrowed to one that you wish to advance forward.  A proposal need not be lofty, but it always in writing and includes specifics.

The Proposal leads to a Motion or Decision — so be sure to provide clarity on exactly the action you are seeking.  Precision is much more likely to receive a definitive answer and the ultimate goal of Action.

Moving ideas through the Idea Funnel will help people stay focused on achieving resolution of the idea as opposed to spending all their time generating more and more ideas that go nowhere.  Try it as a framework for your organization the next time you want brainstorming to result in action instead of just lofty thinking.

beth triplett

If you want me to send you a PDF handout, contact me at the address above. 


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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