We all have good ideas, but people who create lasting change dedicate themselves to ideas with impact. Impact means change beyond our immediate environment. We can’t know exactly how much impact our ideas will have, but there are ways to ensure we’re starting off on the right foot.
For starters, we can establish goals to keep our project on track.
It’s deceptively simple, but taking the time to develop practical and precise goals and pausing regularly to consider how we’re addressing them makes a huge difference in our potential for impact.
What’s the problem?
To begin, we need to focus on the broad landscape affected by our ideas – the big picture, our vision. Often impactful work lives within a number of complicated ecosystems, so we can’t do work that is far-reaching and long-lasting without considering the areas we will touch. What problem are we solving? What type of person needs it? What are the ripple effects we want it to have on related individuals and communities?
Frequently revisiting our vision helps us maintain a focused energy, prevents us from getting off track, and helps broaden our perspective to understanding the impact we’ll make on others.
After defining a vision, we need to narrow our goals by asking some tough questions. What is the specific problem we’re trying to solve? Why does this matter to the communities we want to affect? It’s also important to learn from the work of others. Has anyone else tried to solve this problem? What can be learned from them? What makes our approach more effective?
WEx has our own goal-focused approach to helping you make better stuff:
- We offer questions in Seed, Sprout and Bloom to help you plan strategically – reflecting and refocusing on big picture goals, their implications and defining a path to achieve them. The questions aren’t random either…they’re rooted in research and best practices in design and business.
- We worked with community members and organizations to pilot site features like questions in Seed, Sprout and Bloom. They’ve demonstrated to us that it’s beneficial to answer these questions as a way to consider their work from a new perspective.
- We’ve maintained our own Examples to help us stay focused on our big picture goals, the community needs, and how to evolve to better support the community.
Approaching ideas in this way definitely requires taking time at the start of a project, but ultimately it’s a way to work more efficiently. Defining a realistic vision and taking time to set practical goals gives us concrete ways to know whether we’ve been successful. Letting our goals guide our work can also reduce conflict and distraction among team members, leading to more focused results.
A version of this post was published at workingexamples.org.