Are you also one of those people who see opportunities in everything. Do the people around you rarely seem to understand all the wonderful things the organization could be doing to attract current and new clients? How can you get permission to act upon the opportunities you see? How to convince your boss that your innovative ideas are brilliant and worth acting upon?
Tip 1: Take a course to get started
We have a chicken and egg problem here. To prove that your idea is brilliant and worth pursuing, you need to put time and effort into exploring the idea and collecting evidence. However, to be able to put in the necessary time and effort to explore your idea – you need approval…
How do you break through this cycle? For example, by signing up for a training course that offers you the opportunity to explore your idea.
Most employers provide personal training budget. Use this budget to your advantage! Take a training course on new business development, business model innovation, innovation, new service development, etc. A course that allows you to explore your idea and learn how to go about bringing ideas to practice. It will help you to be more effective, even if your current idea does not pan out.
Use your training budget to do something you are truly passionate about and that will help the organization move forward.
Hint 1: Sometimes at the end of the year there is still budget left (otherwise you have to wait till January…)
Tip 2: Take your boss along for the ride
When you are passionate about something, or see an opportunity, it gets into your head. You think about it all day. Read about it in your spare time. You may even dream about it. In other words, you soon become the expert. The problem is, that in the process, you may have left your colleagues behind. They had not as much time to think about the opportunity as you had.
So, your ideas may easily be lost upon them and your colleagues will fail to understand your passion. Simply, because you are too far ahead. You may have become like an Olympic speed skater trying to explain to fun and excitement of an 10km speed skating race (which, by the way, is looking at two speed-skaters do 25 laps in over 12 minutes at a time). Without in-depth knowledge of the sport, the fun of and excitement of this race eludes many.
What does this mean for you in the office?
Take for example John. When he first heard about bitcoins and the blockchain technology behind this currency, he immediately saw the opportunities for his organization. He went to a few seminars and got confirmation that the possibilities to apply blockchain technologies are endless. During one of these sessions, he ran into a colleague from another department, Chris. Together they came up with a brilliant novel application for their organization. They stuck their heads together and produced a slick slide deck. After hours of hard work, they emailed it to John’s boss, full of high expectations.
To their surprise, John’s boss did not reply. Not that day, nor the next, nor that week.
When John saw his boss in the hallway a week later, he inquired what he thought of the slide deck. His boss replied “good you ask. I looked at it, but don’t think it is something for us”. And with that, he walked away.
Stupefied and disappointed, John returned to his desk. Was that all they got for the hours of work he and Chris had put in the presentation?
What is the problem? Does John have a terrible and conservative boss?
No, John has a visionary boss very supportive of innovative ideas. However, his boss was simply caught unaware. He had not yet heard about the blockchain technology or its possibilities (this is a few years back).
So what should John and Chris have done instead?
Instead of shoving the slide deck into Johns face (or email box), John and Chris should have worked on increasing the awareness level and decision readiness of their boss. For example, by organizing a brown bag lunch around the topic. One related to the topic of one of the seminars they recently attended.
With a lot of response to this brown bag. The next step could have been to invite a Blockchain expert to give a talk. For this talk, they could have invited their boss and other members of the management team. Thereafter, it would be an opportune moment to email the slide deck. Describing how the organization could act upon some of the suggestions mentioned by the speaker. And to be specific, how Blockchain technology could be used to create a new service line for the organization – with the slide deck attached.
I bet you, that in this case, John’s boss would certainly have opened the email, read the slide deck, and reacted very differently.
Tip 3: Don’t travel the route alone
John was blessed to have ran into Chris at one of the external meetings. Together they made a strong team. However, most people go after their ideas all by themselves. That is not a smart idea for several reasons:
- If you go solo, you have to do all the work.
- If you go alone, you may get a favor from your boss and get approval to make a start. That will get you started quickly, however, you may end up lacking sufficient support to make it to the finish line and get your idea implemented in practice. For that you need full organizational support. It is easier to get such support for a team that is well anchored in the organization than as an individual.
- If you go alone, it is just very lonely. Going through the ups and downs and celebrating victory together with a team is just much more fun.
Hint 2: As the African proverb says ” If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.
Thus, make therefore sure that before doing anything else, you created a (small) team. As a team, it is much easier to convincing your boss to give at least one of you the time to explore the opportunity further.
Perhaps, it may not even require convincing. Instead, your boss may reach out to you – as that team of talented and passionate employees who can be trusted to act upon this brilliant opportunity successfully.
Hint 3: The tips above and many others are shared in Unit 1 of the “How to get your idea approved course“. This online course including exercises that help you tackle the problems mentioned above, from a decision readiness map to a team alignment assignment.
Does the above make sense? Do you want to apply it to your own brilliant idea, but wonder where to start? Again, the training courses mentioned above, may be a great opportunity to make a start.
Organizing for Innovation offers the “How to get your idea approved” course. I suggest you take the time to go through Unit 1 of this course. It is free! And, it is packed full of specific techniques – like the suggestions above – you can start utilizing right now to significantly increase your chances of obtaining approval for your idea.
Here are a few of the key techniques you’ll miss if you don’t go through Unit 1:
- How to avoid your boss dismissing your idea without even reading your proposal | you want your idea to be heard and approved, correct?
- How to learn from previous success and failed initiates in your organization | you want to be successful, don’t you?
- How to “manage” uncertainty | you don’t want to unnecessarily trip and fail over something you overlooked, do you?
- How to make sure your ideas fit the organization’s strategic goals | you want to be eligible for funding by your organization, I assume
- How to stay motivated throughout the innovation journey | you want to see this all the way through, right