Leaders have so many responsibilities. A major responsibility is to balance forecasted and planned activities while allowing for the almost constant bombardment from rich, “greenfield” opportunities that can emerge from engaged, talented, creative employees. Employees are always a rich source of ideas and innovations.

A typical day is filled with planned and forecasted programs and generally budgets are fully committed to ensuring the success of those plans and projects. When those succeed, the corporation generally succeeds. Leaders will refer to the items forecasted as the “status quo” and they expect employees to be committed to those items by being aligned and fully engaged. However, great leaders always allow for the unexpected.

The unexpected may include a plan that suddenly is failing. A plan that needs more resources to be accelerated because of early signs of succeeding well beyond expectations. And the wild cards: ideas that emerge from the talent within the company that may be better than anything currently “on the books”.

In the case of the latter, ideas that emerge from talented employees, leaders ought to shift the onus to the innovator of the idea, and to do so early in the proposal stages, by asking for a clear answer to this question: “Is the Value greater than the cost?” That single question will determine if ideas are to be nourished or starved. When an idea clearly does not deliver more value than cost, the leader should summarily execute it. Or, in other words, when the value is lacking, the leader should simply learn to say “No” as early as possible to prevent distraction and to prevent employees from wasting both valuable corporate resources and their own time and resources.

It’s important for leaders to keep everyone focused on those activities that deliver large amounts of value to the corporation. New ideas are no exception. Keep them focused on maximum value.

Is the VALUE greater than the COST?

Part of that value equation must include a time factor. Everything can be accomplished in due course, in time, but not all things can be accomplished in a time period relevant to the corporate objectives, reporting periods, competitive threats, and thousands of other variables and market dynamics. The faster innovations can be implemented the more rapid the internalization of lessons from those innovations. That is, corporations are like a human being, in a sense. The faster and broader the experiences, the more the human learns. Likewise with corporations. The faster innovations can be implemented, the sooner the proverbial lessons emerge from the experience of implementing those innovations. One lesson builds upon the other, one innovation upon another. The corporation climbs its way to success. So, the next question for screening ideas and innovations is simply:

Can this value be achieved in a relatively short, or at least, the requisite TIME PERIOD?

Corporations succeed by focusing on commitments that offer the greatest value in the shortest periods of time. It’s always about maximizing resources, time and success…