Like most everything in life, interest and enthusiasm for new ideas and projects ebb and flow. We’ve also found this to be true with some of our BetaGov trials. The initial period following identification of a trial idea can be called the “honeymoon” phase—practitioners are proud to be recognized for having an innovative idea, pleased about the possibility of testing it, and enthused about having assistance in wrapping a randomized controlled trial around their idea.
This is a really exciting time for both the practitioner and the BetaGov team! In some cases, however, the excitement of this period wanes, and we see practitioners’ enthusiasm for their idea drop as the requirements for developing a viable trial become apparent. Addressing logistical and practical considerations can seem overwhelming. Obtaining leadership approval, determining the details of the trial (who will participate, where will it take place, how long will it be), and sometimes securing funds to pay for project materials, can be daunting and slow trial progress.
Although BetaGov will continue to offer encouragement and support, and importantly, do the heavy lifting needed to get your trial launched, some really good ideas have been dropped from planning when the honeymoon phase ends. Recently, an innovative idea for improving communication with juveniles under community supervision required leadership approval at multiple stages of trial development. The idea-maker just couldn’t maintain enthusiasm during the trial development stage given the slowdowns required by these approvals, and opted to drop the trial. Given the promise of the innovation to be tested, the agency lost out on a potential improvement to their process and an additional item to their toolkit. Our advice: Stay the course. Don’t give up. A good idea is a good idea, and deserves to be tested. Gather a trial team of your colleagues who support your idea and can work on this with you. Don’t lose your excitement, but let BetaGov help you get past logistical challenges.
The biggest challenge we see faced by practitioners is the need to balance day-to-day work responsibilities with the additional tasks of developing a trial. Time is limited and the priority—appropriately so—is to take care of usual responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have both: let BetaGov take on tasks like writing up a concise trial description, and getting your idea vetted by your agency leadership. With BetaGov’s help and a bit of perseverance, your idea can be tested, and you might find that your trial results lead to important improvements in your agency. There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. Let BetaGov help you take your caterpillars to see what develops!