I've been inspired by the term "shovel-ready" in the media reports about the stimulus package. I think that's one of the things we want to foster in public health: organizations that have a set of shovel-ready plans that they would be ready to start quickly.

Maybe some of you have more money than you have ideas-- that's a difficult state of affairs but it can be solved. Innovation is a process you can learn. We've written some about it already.

I'm guessing most of you-- especially now-- don't have lots of extra money to spend. Do you have more ideas than money? Should you?

I think it would be a bad plan to quit brainstorming and quit planning at this point. Because what if someone does offer you some money? What if some stimulus money appears, and needs to be spent in a hurry? What if you wound up with some extra time on your hands, as funding for certain projects dries up?

The answer is this: you will want to have a little folder of "shovel-ready" plans. This is exactly what the business planning structure is about-- getting from the back of the envelope to a fleshed-out, researched, vetted plan with real need, a real chance, a real budget, real partners. A business plan is shovel-ready: ready to get funded and get going.

Let's talk more about developing "shovel-ready" public health ideas-- are you developing plans now? Why or why not? What would constitute shovel-readiness in your organization? Drop me an email or respond here!

--Steve Orton