Innovation and creative thinking. People development programmes often include modules on these topics. But even if your organisation proactively encourages people to generate new ideas, what sort of hearing do those ideas get? And how can we, as innovative thinkers, make sure our proposals are properly considered?
Good ideas are worth exploring. But simply having a good idea is not enough. We have a responsibility to present that idea properly if we want it to be considered seriously. And we need to demonstrate that we’ve done our homework too - a half-baked idea isn’t going to impress anyone when your proposal comes under scrutiny.
A time for innovative thinking
Innovative ideas tend to come when you’re least expecting them. You don’t sit down and say to yourself, ‘right, it’s time to have a creative thought’. Your best ideas tend to come when you’re in the shower, out on a walk or in conversation with others. The trick is to be open to ideas when they emerge in your brain - and to have a means of capturing them whilst they are fresh in your mind. Nowadays you can record spoken ideas on your mobile phone, so you don’t even need a pen! Try experimenting with a walking meeting, and you’ll find that your ideas and conversation flows differently from when you’re sitting round a table, so take a recording device with you.
A time for presenting your idea
Timing is the key to getting a good idea accepted. And that means getting the timing right for your organisation as well as for your boss. For example, there’s little point in coming up with an idea for improving sales through intermediaries if your company has just decided to switch to a direct selling model. Similarly, where your boss is concerned, describing your idea just before he or she is about to make an important presentation, isn’t going to work either. You might want to share your idea with some colleagues to get their reaction but again, you’ll get short shrift if they are working frantically to meet a deadline!
It’s easier to say ‘No’
It’s always easier for people to turn down an idea. A straight forward ‘no’ is quick and easy - and it’s much less timing consuming than saying, ‘yes’ or even, ‘tell me more’. Implementing an idea means change and effort; people’s default position is usually to prefer the status quo, so unless they can see a big upside in doing things differently, the idea is most likely to be turned down. Your job is to sell your idea and that means doing the necessary preparation.
Objections are a good sign because it means that the other person is thinking about what you’ve put forward. They are engaging with your idea. Take the opportunity to embrace the objections and show how you’ve already addressed them. Think through the implications of your proposal before you present it and think carefully about how it will appear from the perspective of the people you need to convince. Only when you can clearly demonstrate that the benefits of your idea outweigh the costs and inconvenience of implementation will your idea win support.
Learning how to present your ideas
Innovative ideas and creative thinking may be valuable in themselves, but without proper consideration and acceptance by others they go nowhere. The way we present our ideas is crucial to whether they are embraced.
What To Say When You’ve Had a Great Idea is a short video showing how to prepare your case, how to deal with objections and crucially, how to get your boss to focus on your great new idea.
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