Ideas are not Enough! #86 #cong18


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About John Horkan:

Co-owner and CEO of Horkan’s Group. John has over 30 years’ experience in business. His main responsibility is the strategic direction of Horkans Group and leading the eCommerce development across the businesses. He is pass Chairman of Retail Excellence Ireland’s e-Commerce Committee and he has participated in the Google Incubation Program for Irish Retailers. John is a founder member of DMiMayo Digital Marketing in Mayo network group. He represented Ireland at the Global E-commerce Summit in Barcelona in 2013.

Horkan’s Group is a family business that operates 4 Horkan’s Garden & Lifestyle Centre’s and 8 Petworld stores in locations across Ireland along with two eCommerce sites and

Contacting John Horkan:

You can follow John on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or email him.

By John Horkan

We have lots of Ideas every day.  Some are good and some are not so good but a brilliant idea without any action or implantation process is as worthless as no idea at all. I find that  the critical step in creating value is what comes after you generate your ideas and most of all, I know that bringing people on board is the key to turning a good idea or even a great idea into something of real value to you or others.

I am immersed in business planning at the moment, reviewing the performance in our business over the last year and looking forwards to next year. It’s quite interesting to look back at all the ideas that were on last years plan but never made it to fruition. Some made it to the plan document. Many got further down the road and were started and even put on to someones agenda, others moved on to a battle plan that we like to call our implementation plan but also failed to become a reality. Many reasons exist why these ideas never made it. People were too busy, had too many other ideas in their calendar, didn’t spend enough time in planning, slow decision making, lack of resources and many more. But on reflection as a business we have had our most productive and transformative year yet. We were very successful in getting a small number of our  most important ideas implemented. Not all were delivered but the big ones were. We’re launching a brand new product in January and will be live with a complete business solution also in January which will replace 13 individual business applications. These two ideas will help us grow our revenue on one side and improve our efficiency while reducing costs on the other side. Why did these make it and others did not?

Over the past 2 years i have been following a guide. A buddy of mine told me about it when we were out cycling.  He received funding from a Venture group and at the first meeting with his new mentor he was handed a copy of Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. I love learning so I had my own copy delivered within 2 days. I started to learn. A lot was very familiar as I have been reading business books for many years. Verne has combined many of the great thinkers in modern business and brought their ideas together in one book. Within the month I had purchased 5 copies and all the senior team got a present of one. It has given us a common framework and language.  Scaling Up is more of a guide than a business book. You pull from it what you need but I find we keep going back to it again and again to learn and guide our work.  It has been an invaluable guide in our business. It has helped us create new ideas but munch more importantly it has helped us bring the best of these to fruition.  We have developed a rhythm of meeting which keeps a focus on what is important. We connect people in a structured, transparent and measured form. We align our daily, weekly, monthly and annual meetings around implementation of important ideas and keep a finger on the pulse of our progress. We develop our ideas and select only the ones which we believe are the most important ones. These are our rocks. These are communicated across the business and we introduce a quarterly theme which everyone in the company is involved in to ensure we have total buy in and support. When we achieve our quarterly theme we celebrate our achievement across the whole company. This year it has been free lunches for every employee where they celebrated their work with their teammates.

The major lesson was around focus, that everyone in our business knows and understands what we are trying to do and what their role is in achieving our goals. We are like many businesses producing many good ideas but now we have become a little better at identifying the best of these and at getting them across the line.

As I work through our business planning process I am amazed at all the new ideas along with ones we have resurrected and sharpened up. These have come from across the business.  We are at that stage of setting them out and sifting through them. It is very much a team process with feedback from everyone in the company as well as from customers and outside partners. In a week or two we will be filtering them down to a few we believe will make the difference next year. What will they be? It’s an exciting process but one I always have trouble with when it’s time to say no to many of the ideas on the board. Some will no doubt be ones I came up with myself. Maybe none of mine will make the final cut. But there will be a final cut and then we get to map these out and get on with making them become reality. I look forward to next year’s quarterly celebration, sitting down with the people who made the ideas become reality. We are all going in one direction and it feels great.

P.s I have been reading about Design Thinking and how it helps teams use design and creative process within business. I  would love to hear from anyone who has used it successfully in their business.

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