People are not your most valuable assets. Today, ideas are your most valuable assets. Innovation in its most simplistic form is the result of people bringing ideas to life. Yet, research shows 52% of employees are frustrated at work because managers do not support their ideas or empower their creativity.
People who present ideas often get no response at all from a supervisor (the idea goes into a black hole). Or they get some version of this:“No, that won’t work.” “No, we’ve already tried that.” “No we do it this way.” “No, our customers won’t like that.””No, that’s not realistic.””No, they will never buy into that.”“No, we can’t afford that.”We don’t buy the assumption that managers aren’t interested. Instead, we suggest you think through why they are not responding or why they are so quick to say “NO.”
Could it be any version of the following? Your manager doesn’t understand; Doesn’t see the ROI; Is insecure and unsure of the future; Is overwhelmed in his/her own role; Is distracted by other issues.
Regardless of the scenario, it is up to every employee to take personal responsibility for his or her ideas and build a business case for the ROI of an idea. Here are 6 strategies to bring your idea to life:
1. Make it practical. Ideas can be vague. Show examples, create a prototype, get customer input on the viability of your idea. Make your idea visual, to see is to believe. Need inspiration? Order “DO SOMETHING NOW!” from amazon here.
2. Show customer benefit. Capture customer concerns, frustrations, and suggestions, show how your idea/innovation will provide a solution.
Get customers to buy into a trial or a focus group dedicated to your idea and document their experiences.
3. Find co-partners or collaborators. Innovations are challenging, look for possible partners to co-develop your idea. If it’s too complex for your own organization, or your team to tackle on your own do your research and get to know the subject matter experts in other functional areas. Reach across functional boundaries, tap into the talents of others, grow your knowledge, network, and reputation during the process.
4. Invite your manager to co-own the initiative. Innovations are typically team efforts that are best led by passionate innovation co-champions, co-sponsors, co-owners. You do the work but give your manager co-credit. Supporting and accelerating an idea through a deeply rooted corporate culture requires lots of champions.
5. Build a business case for your idea. As an innovator your idea must always offer ROI. Show how your idea reduces costs, improves a process, increases efficiency, lowers costs, adds more value than costs, builds your brand, decreases turnover, increases retention, helps your team achieve goals/objectives.
6. Timing is everything. Prepare don’t just share! Just because the idea is top of mind for you doesn’t mean it is timely for your manager. Once you’ve created a business case for the ROI, have identified go to resources, possible collaborators, gained customer input, and linked your idea to the goals of the organization then you can carefully think though timing. Make the idea timely and timeless. Schedule a time to share your business case when your manager is focused and distractions are minimized.