Getting an idea from conception to implementation can be a disheartening experience in any company. I’ve seen good ideas go unrealized not so much due to resistance in the enterprise, but rather because the idea was not adequately proposed at the onset. Yet, you can avoid having your work sent to your company’s intellectual trash heap by avoiding the five most common reasons that stop good ideas from becoming great realities.The reasons are:
- * The notion that *my* idea is a good idea
* Not understanding that even the easy stuff is hard
* Ignoring the accountant
* Lack of a shooting script
* The engineer’s aversion to selling
Allow me to elaborate.
Reason #1: The notion that *my* idea is a good ideaThe first reason that a good idea goes bad is because the idea is just not that good to begin with. Just coming up with an idea doesn’t automatically make it good, no matter how clever the idea is or how much status the person who thought it up has. Many times someone will come up with an idea, and the next thing you know it’s out in the open, which is OK if the idea is good. But, if the idea is bad, once it’s public, it will go really bad really fast.Then, the best case is that the reputation of the idea’s creator will be temporarily compromised. The worst case is that you will be marginalized to the corner of your company as the person who came up with “that idea” that cost the company a pile of money, bad press and loss of prestige in the marketplace. In some cases, if the idea is bad enough, the days of gainful employment at the company might be numbered. Make sure that *your* idea is a good idea before going public. Subject your thinking to relentless “pre-release” criticism. Be your own devil’s advocate. Make sure that you idea really has benefit to the case at hand. And, make sure that you can communicate the benefit clearly. Then, and only then, make your idea known to the organization.
Reason #3: Ignoring the acountant
The third reason that a good idea goes bad is because the numbers don’t balance. Every company has a least one person whose fundamental purpose in life is to make sure that the accounts balance and that the checks don’t bounce. This is the accountant. The accountant looks at all expense as an investment that must yield a return. This type of person is paid to be cut and dry. Any idea has an expense. The benefit that your idea realizes is the return. When you ask your company to support your idea, you are asking it to make an investment from which it wants to receive a substantial return. Still, most of the ideas that I’ve seen proposed by engineers describe benefits in terms of the neat way in which a particular technological approach solves the given problem. It is the rare case that describes the benefit of an idea in the concrete, arithmetic language of the accountant. So, if you want your idea to go anywhere, provide a credible Return on Investment analysis to support your thinking. When you describe your idea, state in exact terms the cost of your thinking and the return your company can expect in terms of dollars saved or money made. If you can’t articulate a compelling ROI, your idea just ain’t that good.