Idea Management

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 10-20-09

I have a new post published on StartUp Blog at PartnerUp. See the full article on that site.

This is a guest post by Jamie Flinchbaugh.

I’ve met a number of people who want to start businesses but have been clawing away at the same idea for many years without progress. I’ve met just as many people who have great ideas but never bring them to fruition. These folks are stuck because they don’t approach idea management the right way. Idea management is a discipline that every entrepreneur, present and future, should master.

Here’s how I handle the process. As I generate ideas, either randomly or through brainstorming, I use a spreadsheet to track them. This includes the idea, status, next steps, required financial or time investment, and current or potential partners. When I have an idea, I don’t judge it nor do I start to work on it. I simply add it to the spreadsheet. This gets it out of my head so I can manage it rather than be distracted by it. I keep this spreadsheet updated continuously, color coding the ideas I discard, those I turn into something, and those that have simply stalled.

Why is such a list important? First, the organization of your ideas can be used for further idea generation. If you’ve tracked five ideas but then decided against them, that’s OK because your brain can potentially use those bad ideas to trigger the generation of good ones. The more ideas you generate, the more your brainstorming skills and habits will grow.

Second, and more importantly, the spreadsheet will help you better analyze the viability of your ideas. Too many people fall in love with the first idea they have because it’s their only idea. The list helps you to think more critically than that. It enables you to say no to the wrong ideas so that when the right ideas come along you can say yes with conviction.

Idea management is critical to the development of your business. Businesses thrive off ideas, but if your ideas don’t go anywhere your business won’t go anywhere either.

Jamie Flinchbaugh is an executive coach, consultant and entrepreneur. You can follow more of Jamie’s writing at