5 Essential Ways to Get Your Great Idea Off the Ground


by Crystal Hyde, Learning and Development Leader, KPMG

My career has been defined by two things: an affinity for new L&D technologies and trends, and working in the ecosystem of an L&D department of multibillion, multinational companies. These two things are often perceived as mutually exclusive, but across my experiences at AT&T, BP, and KPMG I have successfully pushed through innovative learning solutions.

Some of the forward-thinking initiatives for which I have successfully advocated include mobile apps,  micro-learning videos, and most recently, designing a social and collaborative learning experience via a platform that provides  curated courses and resources over time to help support capability development and build community among learners.

As a Learning and Development strategist, here are key steps I have learned for getting your L&D ideas off the ground.

  • Identify Green Lights, Yellow Lights, and Red Lights

Green lights are people who are already sold on the idea or are typically the first responders to new technology. They are your immediate allies.

Yellow lights are people who are not yet convinced. This is the group you can persuade.  

Red lights are against the idea. Their minds are made up, and they may even campaign against your new idea.  

Identify Green Lights, Yellow Lights, and Red Lights

  • Persuade the Yellow Lights

Don’t waste your time trying to convert the red lights. To take the traffic metaphor one step further, anyone who is a red light has already braked to a stand still. Those who are yellow lights are deciding whether to stop or speed on through. You can change their minds if you present the benefits of your solution in  the right way, and once they get through the intersection, the red lights just might begin to ease up on that brake.

  • Start Small

When you’re talking to the yellow lights, it is important to package your presentation properly. Present a clear plan of what you want to do, and make it small. For example, you can try out social learning by taking the lowest level of audience and piloting a short program. Proposing to add social learning to every single audience level all at once is setting yourself up for failure, and even your fellow green lights might hesitate in giving you their support.

  • Go in with Alternatives

Another effective way to win over yellow lights is to give them options. Present them with a number of different plans, then highlight the differences and benefits of each. This helps frame the decision as choosing between different levels, rather than choosing between braking or stepping on the gas. Offering alternatives also means each yellow light can engage with the initiative on a different level, seeing your suggestion from a different perspective than they might have if you presented only one.

  • Define the KPIs

Finally, numbers talk. Rather than going into a meeting saying you want to try something because it sounds cool, do some research on how this new plan will affect your team’s numbers, whether those are budgetary numbers, project hours, learner registration, or other KPIs.

You’ll also want to propose KPIs for how to evaluate the initiative so that once you turn those yellow lights green, you have reasonable guideposts for measuring the success of your program.

You can push new, invigorating ideas through even the most behemoth organizations. As long as you are strategic about how you socialize the initiative, you will one day see more green lights in your conference room.

Crystal Hyde is an experienced Learning & Development leader and strategist supporting the Energy and Industrial Manufacturing Industries. Her career has reflected a progression through classroom teaching, instructional design & development, global academy program management and innovation. Hyde was honored as a 2014 Emerging Training Leader to Watch by Training Magazine.


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