From time to time, most of us find ourselves needing to convince others (especially our bosses) of something – yet find our ideas trashed and our proposals ignored. What happened, and how can we do better next time without feeling defeated and giving up?
I’m reminded of my former colleague Ken Hoover, who is now the Superintendent of the Monroe School District in Washington. As we worked together I noticed that he frequently put out ideas and suggestions, and that many of them went nowhere. Yet, that didn’t seem to phase him – he kept making suggestions! When I asked him about that, he remarked that his theory was that if one out of ten of his ideas was accepted, he was doing great. I loved that – no hurt feelings, no hurt ego, just a very practical approach to putting out lots of ideas with the intent that some of them will catch on even if many of them don’t.
I adopted that approach (though I’m not nearly as good at it as Ken), and recommend the same to you. Get your sense of ownership and your feelings and your ego out of the middle and throw out lots of ideas for improvement – but don’t become discouraged when not all of them are enthusiastically welcomed. To give your ideas an additional boost, consider these tips:
- Remember your audience: speak a language they understand. For example, if you’re dealing with finance types, explain how your idea will improve the bottom line.
- Remember the context: ensure your suggestion is relevant to the topic at hand. For example, if you have a great new product line idea and the conversation is about the strategic direction of the organization, talk about how your product line will further that strategic plan.
- Remember the scope: ensure that your idea is big enough to make a difference, but not so big that it’s nearly impossible to imagine how to start. For example, if you have a great idea for improving efficiency through better use of technology, pick a small part of the technology to start, and a small part of the company at which to beta test it.
Just remember: the more ideas you have and share, the greater the chance that more of them will be adopted, especially if you speak to your audience in the right context and with the right scope.
What kind of success have you had sharing new ideas with colleagues and bosses? Tell us! ~Daphne Schneider