Got an innovative new idea? Don’t share it with your boss (at least not at first.)

One of the fastest ways to kill an innovative new idea is to move it up the chain by asking your boss, having them ask their boss, and so on.

As Scott and Ken Blanchard identify in a new post for Fast Company online, “When you run an idea up the chain of command, you almost never get the permission or the resources to innovate well.

“It’s very hard for people who are invested in the current business to truly embrace disruptive new ideas.

“People at the top of the organizational pyramid are usually running the business using lagging indicators. In general, their focus is on defending present revenue streams. More often than not they are nervous about anything that might cannibalize, compete with, or distract from the company’s core business.”

It’s understandable, say the Blanchards.  In many ways, this is exactly what top executives should be concerned about. But that’s also why true innovation usually happens in the corners of the business and works its way up.

How to proceed with your next new idea

Instead of trying to sell an idea to top leadership before it’s ready, the two Blanchards suggest starting off with just enough permission to experiment.  This gives the idea a chance to develop and gain momentum. It also gives the innovation a chance to generate tangible results that can be used later in making the business case to senior leaders.

They also recommend identifying the different levels of readiness and capacity to understand change that might be present among members of an executive team.

Highlighting the work of Robert Marshak, the senior scholar in residence at American University, they share Marshak’s descriptions of four different mindsets, represented by different metaphors, which affect how people view innovation.

  1. Fix and maintain
  2. Build and develop
  3. Transitional
  4. Transformative

What is your relationship to innovation?

Finally, the Blanchards remind readers that an “organization is only as innovative as the people who work within itwhich brings up a good question.  What is your organization’s mindset when it comes to innovation? 

To read the complete post, see The Number One Killer of Corporate Innovation.

PS: Scott and Ken Blanchard will be featured speakers—along with best-selling author Jackie Freiberg and innovation expert Jim Carroll, at this year’s 2012 Blanchard Summit.  This year’s theme is Fast Forward: Lead, Innovate and CultivateUse this link to learn more about this event (and request an invitation).

2 thoughts on “Got an innovative new idea? Don’t share it with your boss (at least not at first.)

  1. There is tendency to continue business as usual. Innovation also brings risks which can be tested in the small scale with suggested preparatory works. Mind set of leader and his context (in many occasion it is not shared due to various reasons) also matters. Thanks for sharing the tips and we can test it too in our professional as well as family life too.

  2. Pingback: Got an innovative new idea? Don’t share it with your boss (at least not at first.) | UpSearchCoach

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