Does your boss see you as someone who is influential? If not, then you might want to reconsider your chances at promotion. “The more you are known and respected by people above you, the better off you are from a career standpoint,” says Priscilla Claman, the president of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm.
One problem, according to Harvard Business Review, is most employees don’t really know what their boss wants from them. The constant theme? Good ideas.
Research claims that the normal person has up to 50,000 ideas in their head per day, so there is no shortage of creativity. However, the ideas you may think are your best may not be the same ones your boss values. And because of this, you probably aren’t pitching your innovative concepts in the right way.
Here’s the secret: Tap into Silicon Valley.
My friends at Enterprise Development Group created the CO-STAR concept to capture the innovation techniques perfected in Silicon Valley for turning your brilliant ideas into powerful value propositions.
Here’s how it works. Next time you have a great idea to pitch to your boss, spend 20 minutes and work through this beforehand:
C – Customer: Who is the customer? What is the unmet need?
If ideas are not customer-centric, they are likely to fall flat. Think through your customer profile and pitch ideas that will solve a crucial pain point for them.
O – Opportunity: What extra opportunities exist outside the nominated customer group?
This involves an intimate understanding of your market. Beyond influencing your customer, how does your idea support or strengthen the larger goals of your company?
S – Solution: What is your idea for creating value for your customer?
Here is where you describe your idea in its most tangible form. This could be as advanced as an actual prototype or as simple as detailed description of your solution. In either case, be certain to anticipate questions that may arise from your colleagues around risks and challenges to implementing your idea.
T – Team: What knowledge, skills, and contacts do you need to deliver your idea?
Consider your current team’s range of skills and knowledge. Is your idea feasible given the resources to which you have access? If not, be creative in thinking about ways to leverage partnerships and other industry leaders beyond your immediate team.
A – Advantage: What is your competitive advantage? What do you offer that no one else is offering?
Your competition matters. No matter how creative your idea, be sure to study what competitors are already doing in your field and consider which resources they have that may put them at an advantage. In your analysis, also identify what gives your company an edge and choose solutions that fully leverage your team’s unique strengths.
R – Result: What is the return on investment? What are the quantitative and qualitative results that the solution will achieve?
Be prepared to demonstrate how your idea will positively add to your company’s bottom line — whether that be in cost-savings, increased revenue, or heightened customer loyalty.
Following this process will allow you identify your most relevant ideas that demonstrate your ingenuity. It is one thing to slap down a fresh idea in a meeting and cross your fingers that it makes it through the wringer. It is immeasurably more valuable to come to the table with a well-rounded solution that considers your customer, team, and competition — all while adding long term value to your company. Implementing the CO-STAR method will ensure you always do the latter.
Start building influence today with your boss by using CO-STAR to pitch great ideas and speak their language. Then relax; that next promotion is yours!
This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.
This post is by Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale.