Ignite your IDEAS!

In today’s fast-paced and evolving leadership contexts, successful project launching and management requires a systematic approach that fosters innovation, encourages collaboration, and ensures optimal outcomes.

To meet these demands, we need a structured framework that guides us through each project lifecycle stage. One such framework is IDEAS, an acronym for ImagineDesignExperimentAssess, and Scale.

Full disclosure: I was told this acronym years ago and have used it many times, but I can’t remember where it came from. If you know, please tell me!

Imagine: Embracing Creativity and Vision

The first step in the IDEAS framework is to imagine. This stage is where managers and teams think big, embrace creativity, and develop a compelling vision for the project. How are you going to solve the big problem? What ideas do you have? During this phase, engaging stakeholders, gathering their perspectives, and establishing clear goals and objectives is crucial.

By fostering an environment that encourages open thinking and innovation, you can lay a solid foundation for success.

Design: Developing a Solid Plan

Once the vision is established, the next step is to design a comprehensive plan. This involves breaking down the project into manageable tasks, defining roles and responsibilities, and creating a timeline, business model, budget, etc. Effective communication and collaboration among team members are essential during this stage to ensure alignment and clarity.

By investing time and effort into designing a robust project plan, you can mitigate risks and set the project up for success. This is a great time to connect with existing and potential donors if you are in the non-profit world.

Experiment: Encouraging Agile and Iterative Approaches

The experiment phase of the IDEAS framework emphasizes the importance of agility and flexibility. Rather than sticking to a rigid plan, you should encourage experimentation and embrace a mindset of continuous improvement. This stage involves executing the project plan, testing assumptions, gathering feedback, and making necessary adjustments. Launching a pilot project is a great way to experiment with lower risk.

By adopting an iterative approach, you can address challenges and pivot as needed, resulting in more efficient and effective outcomes.

Assess: Evaluating Performance and Progress

The assessment stage focuses on evaluating the performance and progress of the experiment stage of the project. You should establish key performance indicators (KPIs) or other metrics and regularly monitor them to measure success against predefined goals. This involves analyzing data, gathering feedback from stakeholders, and conducting thorough assessments of the project’s effectiveness.

By proactively identifying bottlenecks, risks, and opportunities, you and your team can make informed decisions and take corrective actions to keep the project on track and determine if it is ready for the next stage.

Scale: Expanding Success and Continuous Growth

The final stage of the IDEAS framework is scaling. Once a project has proven successful in the experiment and assessment stages, you should explore opportunities for expansion and growth. This involves capturing lessons learned, documenting best practices, and leveraging successful outcomes to drive future projects.

By implementing a scalable approach, you can maximize the value of their achievements and ensure continuous growth for their teams and organizations.


I have come to appreciate the IDEAS framework as a simple and effective structured approach to navigating the complexities of launching and evaluating a new project or program.

Whether leading a small team or managing a large-scale initiative, incorporating the IDEAS framework into your project management practices can enhance collaboration, improve decision-making, and ultimately increase the likelihood of achieving project success.

So, let’s embrace IDEAS and unlock the full potential of the projects and programs we are dreaming about!

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