Three Ways To Get Cool Stuff Done Quickly At Work

It’s hard to imagine anyone not knowing Helen Reynolds – such is her reputation – but it would be rude not to give an introduction.


Helen is Digital and Social Media Manager at Monmouthshire County Council , and one of the foremost innovators in digital communications. She’s also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. This brilliant guest post came about following a recent post I did about introducing innovation in the workplace. Take it away Helen!


In work, I can get frustrated when I feel like my fabulous ideas are always in ready supply but my work programme can’t catch up.

So I’ve looked back on my career so far, and the times I got cool stuff done, and I’ve found I use one or more of three ways to get a idea into action.

Disclaimer! Everything I’m talking about here relates to work ideas which are ethical, thought-through and which improve my organisation or, in a little way, society. I don’t advocate the approaches here for stupid or unhelpful ideas, obviously.

So – here are three things to do if you want your amazing project to happen:

1. Don’t tell anyone what you’re doing 

Some people like to bounce ideas around a team, this can really fine-tune your concept.  But if your idea is brilliant, the reality is that too much talking to every other department will water it down, slow your progress and add to your workload. You find extra barriers to jump and more people to spend time granting you permission.

It may be a cliche but it’s worth weighing up: will asking for forgiveness be easier than gaining permission? It should be a calculated risk – sometimes we have to crack on if we’re passionate that our project will be good enough to warrant this approach.

In a nutshell: work on a ‘need-to-know’ basis or end up with the guy from accounts inviting you to a project board about your idea.

2. Ask ‘blockers’ to prepare a business case for why you shouldn’t do it 

The lovely and very innovative Dyfrig from Good Practice Wales asked me recently about how the organisation I work for opened up social media access to all staff – what would I do differently if I could do it again?

Easy.  I’d have brought out the reflection business case!

Years ago I was asked by a reluctant fella from IT, after weeks of meetings, to produce a business case for why we should give staff access to social media. I was advised I’d need to look into all sorts of IT security stuff which sounded to me like technical gobbledegook and sounded like it’d be expensive. I briefly had a crack writing his business case before giving up and taking a different route (which, incidentally, was getting buy-in from leaders on the larger issues facing the organisation and how the idea would help).

If I could do it again, I’d have said: “OK, I’ll write a concise summary of what I think should happen and you write me a business case for why it should not happen.”

Have that!

Some people find it easier to be negative than to come up with a solution. The reflected business case makes being a negative Norman a bit harder.

3. Be excited and really care

You’ll never follow through anything difficult unless you really want it to happen and you really care. If you’re thinking, ‘I’m not sure I can do it, maybe this won’t work’ – this isn’t the idea that you should slog your guts out on.

My best work has been the projects I’ve given up a night in the pub for, spent nights over a laptop with, got excitement butterflies in my stomach at. Everything else is day-to-day nice stuff.

For the sake of your health – use your passion and energy on the great ideas, not the good ones.

It’s true, honest

I used all three of these ‘techniques’ on various projects I’ve won awards for, including a 2011 SomeComms award for innovation. So it must work huh?

Would it work for you?

I hope so – good luck with your cool work.



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