Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting your ideas heard

We all have ideas.  Sometimes, they're actually good.  Problem is, not all of us are decision makers where we work.  Often, our ideas are shot down before we can even fully express them.  How can we get our ideas to be implemented despite our position on the corporate ladder?

First, let's look at why this happens.  In a typical scenario, I've found out about a new thing that'll work twice as fast as the doohickey we've got now.  I go and talk to my boss about the wonders of The New Thing.  My boss (hopefully) thinks about this for 10 seconds and then interrupts.  "Doesn't this new thing have caching issues?"  Sure, it does, but they're working on it.  However, it's already too late.  I'll be fighting an uphill battle, defending New Thing.  Even if I do manage to push it through, all future caching issues (and anything else that's related) will be pinned on me.

See what happened?  We tend to be critical of any new idea and for good reason.  Most new ideas are terrible.  Thus, when the new idea is yours, people will seek to find the flaws in it.  Instead of bringing up the solution for the problem, bring up the problem you intend to solve.

Instead of seeing something that could go wrong, they'll see something that is wrong - and needs to be fixed.  Explain the details of the problem and wait for others to come up with solutions.  Once a few ideas have floated (and been criticized), bring up yours.  Instead of being put on the spotlight to be judged, it is now part of an idea slurry that will hopefully result in a solution.  The solution will have buy-in from others so you're not the single point of blame.

Bringing up the problem first helps people focus on what really needs fixing, rather than the how.  Creating an idea slurry ensures that the focus is on fixing the problem, rather than fixing your solution.

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