Lots of people have great ideas. Many people imagined the iPhone, virtual reality and companies like Uber decades before they actually happened. But, there is big difference between thinking of something and actually executing that idea to become real. Bridgit Lombard is one who consistently turns great ideas into reality on a grand scale. A millionaire before the age of 30, Lombard is a fearlessly ambitious entrepreneur and has amassed an amazing track record in a few short years to prove it.
Starting at Deloitte in London as the Head of Brand and Business Development, covering 21 regions in the U.K. and Switzerland, Lombard helped establish Deloitte's first I-Board to embrace and drive innovation, which produced 212 million in new product and service launches. She then went on to work with clients such as Sony, Diageo and Virgin building brand and marketing strategies.
Then Lombard founded Tenega Group, a London-based global management consulting practice where she and her team pioneered a proprietary approach to investing in down markets to build measurable consumer loyalty. This led to a successful exit within three years.
Recruited as CEO of Nathan Sports and its parent company Penguin Brands, Lombard, a member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), was responsible for business operations across 47 countries. During her tenure, she created a values-based company culture and achieved industry-breaking multiples on the sale of both assets, with a ten- fold value increase between 2010 and 2015. Her efforts solidified Nathan as the No. 1 running essentials brand across the globe with more than 81 percent market share. Her amazing business accomplishments garnered her the 2015 Leader of Innovation Medal from Philadelphia University.
As she readies for her next entrepreneurial adventure, Lombard was kind enough to take time and share her proven process for turning worthy ideas into fantastic reality.
1. Do a reality check.
It's easy to get a big rush from a big new idea, but oftentimes, haste can lead you down the wrong path. Lombard advocates for first checking to see if the new idea aligns with your company's value proposition. "You need to understand how important the problem is you're attempting to solve, before you spend any money or time on it," says Lombard. "Specifically, what value are you driving for your business--this can be dollars, or not--but it MUST have a tangible link to your business goals--short or long term." Then ask these questions to address the pragmatism of the idea as Lombard suggests, "On a scale of 1--10, what is the likelihood we can achieve this and what is the price if we don't? In other words, is failure an option?"
2. Consider your resources.
Taking on a new project requires a great deal more than just money. Lombard recommends that leaders carefully consider the available resources at his or her disposal before taking on a new project. "What will it take to get this completed? Do we have access to or can we create what we need to get this project done well? Resources include not only dollars but also the team required to make this happen--Are the right people in place, if not, can we get them in place quickly enough to action the project?" are among the questions Lombard recommends every leader consider.
3. Clearly define specific goals.
A new idea won't amount to much if you don't know how you want to implement it into your company's current functions. Lombard suggests breaking the project down and defining the idea's purpose and goals for existing divisions as soon as possible. "Make sure the goals of the project are clearly stated. How can we expect others to get on board and participate if they don't understand the what and why," she states. "Be able to articulate the WHY to yourself, your team and anyone who asks. It is what fuels the passion and drive behind the herculean efforts it often takes to get great things achieved."
4. Set incremental milestones to measure success.
Goals are only part of the process and by themselves can lead to fast failure. Lombard explains, "The number one reason people give up so fast is because they tend to get overwhelmed and look at how far they have to go instead of how far they have come." "Recognizing small wins along the way will ensure you and team keep up momentum and energy to see the project through to the end."
5. Put together a dream team to take it on.
Once you have buy-in from everyone in the company, then ensure that you have the best people working on the idea. "Spare no expense in getting the right folks at the table," recommends Lombard. "And, make sure you have the people with not just the right background and skills but the right mindset. If this an innovative and early adopter project that requires the team to take risks and think outside the box, ensure the team members are aligned in spirit as well as skill."
6. Be a collaborator.
When a leader comes up with a great idea, he or she may become overly enthusiastic. "Through the process of collaboration, you will most likely discover new ideas, pathways and garner a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the project," notes Lombard. But, she cautions not to overpower and instead maintain yourself as part of the team that takes in ideas and remains flexible to change and development throughout the process.
7. Seek outside feedback.
Leaders driving a new project will often keep it a secret until they think it is ready to be showcased. However, this may actually hinder the process more than help it. Lombard suggests you not only let others outside the team know what you are up to but also actively seek their feedback that might help you improve the idea. "Constantly test your theory and assumptions with the feedback received," she advocates.
8. Prioritize your battles.
"Oftentimes, leaders believe that in order to get something accomplished, they must be so steadfast that nothing deters them or the team," Lombard acknowledges. "While being determined and focused is important, being able to let go of the little stuff is even more important. Check in and keep asking yourself--what's the goal and is this going to hinder or help us achieve that? Don't get stuck on the little stuff."
9. Remain patient.
The hardest part of turning a great idea into reality is the "into reality" part. It doesn't happen overnight and will likely take longer than originally hoped or anticipated. Unfortunately, many get discouraged and abandon hope just before success. Lombard swears the winners follow their conviction and are committed, "You will get there, not in the exact manner you thought possible, so let go of that ideal now and realize that you've got to be resilient enough to get knocked down, face challenges, and get up again to keep moving forward,"
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.