Making Your Pitch
Keep the pitch simple, and build it around the Guy Kawasaki Rule of 10/20/30: 10 slides, 20 minutes, nothing smaller than 30-point font. Remember that you are telling a story; you want a spokesperson who can bring the idea to life and get people excited.
Practice pitching the idea before you take it to senior management, and fine-tune your pitch depending on the feedback. Include the Gated Funding Model to see what you can realistically convince your management to invest. You have to think through what the executive uses as decision criteria before you make the pitch.
Pausing an Idea
As an outcome from the workshop, you may find that one or more of the ideas may be great but the timing isn’t right. The customer isn’t ready, the technology doesn’t quite exist, or the organization isn’t ready for the change. Pausing is a good option. Take those ideas that ranked high but for which the timing wasn’t right, and place them on a list that you come back to on a regular basis. When the timing is better, it’s time to pitch them to the organization. The key is to capture and track the ideas that come out of this and future workshops. This “idea management” step is one that is commonly overlooked. As I mentioned when discussing what happened to my friend David, in typical brainstorming sessions a final e-mail is sent around and nothing happens, momentum is lost, and good ideas go to waste. You can’t let this happen to you. If you organize and run your innovation workshop as I describe, you will have a ranked list of ideas that, if used, will create an innovation funnel for your organization.
Here’s one final thought before you go into your pitch meeting to sell your best idea. I’ve been at HP for nine years, and over my tenure here I’ve launched twelve fundamentally new products. Each one of these launches was as much of a battle as the first; it never gets easier. In fact, I think that if it becomes easy, it means you aren’t doing your job. Why? Because if it’s easy, it means that you aren’t giving people anything new enough to elicit that initial reaction of resistance and fear. This process is never easy; don’t beat yourself up if you find that getting a great idea to the execution stage is exhausting, hard work. If it’s a great idea, most people’s gut reaction will be to push back against it. Persevere.
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