Ideas – The Start of Something Great

Idea generation is an important part of community and economic development work.
Ideas – The Start of Something Great - Articles


Community and organizational actions and completed projects are great to observe, utilize, and document with articles and pictures. We can report that a boat ramp has been constructed, a vacant building filled, or a scenic view protected. What often is lost in the fanfare, however, is where and how the ideas for such projects originated and the people that played a role. Such roles could have included those that developed the idea itself, the leader or facilitator leading the discussion and asking the right questions, or those that took that idea and molded it into a format to fit the particular community or organizational need. In short, ideas as well as the process to develop them are important. Ideas are the first step of future actions.

There are a number of areas to think about when it comes to ideas and their progress. Some of these include:

  • Seeking ideas - There should not only be a willingness to seek new ideas, but a process to seek them from various sources as applicable. When ideas continually come from the same pool of contributors, they may lack a perspective that could refine, renew, enhance, or constructively critique. The means by which new ideas can be sought are numerous, some of which include, community forums, surveys, new board/committee members, public meetings/hearings, focus groups and task forces.
  • Willingness to share ideas - A vast offering of opportunities won't produce input unless people are willing to participate and share. Personal commitment is required. This can range from board member attendance and level of contribution to citizen involvement at public meetings. I once spoke with a consultant that reflected on a past municipal meeting. At that meeting, a request for desired future municipal projects and goals was met with silence. Without ideas, especially local community ideas, projects don't happen, or if they do, they may follow the status quo.
  • Respecting and valuing ideas and those that give them - In order for board members, officials, citizens and stakeholders to be willing and comfortable with sharing ideas, there should be a documented as well as perceived atmosphere of a willingness to hear and value ideas. Not all ideas are necessarily good ones, but the ability to provide them opens up discussion, leads to other ideas, and reinforces a process for more ideas.
  • Documenting and nurturing ideas - Unfortunately, there are many instances where ideas are either forgotten or not pursued and opportunities are lost. Ideas that are to be further explored should not only be documented, but assigned to a person and/or entity that will follow-up. This can include further researching the issue, establishing specific tasks and timetables and networking /communicating with others.

Just image all the ideas that are waiting to surface and make a difference for your group or community.