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Do your ideas pass the bottom-line test?

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in Human Resources

Issue: Busy execs don't have time to consider ideas that don't improve the bottom line.

Risk: Presenting your ideas without taking time to examine the costs and the cash flow will make you look like a novice.

Action: Use the steps below to put your idea into terms your organization's top execs not only will understand, but will be clamoring to act on.

To propose the most compelling time- or cost-saving ideas, first analyze them like the CEO does:

1. Sell solutions. Before you plunge into the numbers, start with a "green grass" statement. Use your words to paint a picture of the desirable outcome that your idea will produce.

2. Confront the costs. Assume that the people you'll be proposing your idea to will think about one thing: How much will this cost?

Determine all costs to implement your proposal, including both one-time start-up expenses and ongoing investments. Use a graph or a chart to help execs evaluate the amount and timing of cash outlays and what revenues or savings they can expect in return.

3. Connect the dots. Study your organization's strategic plan before you finalize your presentation. Figure how to tie your idea into that strategy.

4. Include a clincher. Close your pitch with an "easy to overlook" piece. Say: "Before I wrap up, here's one key factor that's easy to overlook." Then, spotlight the risk of not acting on your plan, a cost-effective way to "test" the idea or a hidden benefit.

End on that note, and you'll sway fence-sitters to give you the go-ahead.

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