What do the World Wide Web and little yellow post-it notes have in common? You’ve guessed it! They were both great ideas that changed the world on some level. These were not ‘Eureka!’-type moments, similar to the one allegedly experienced by Archimedes in Greece, but rather the results of lengthy brainstorming and development processes. With this in mind, never give up on your ideas! If you have a good idea, keep persevering with it in your company.
Tip 1: Answer the question WHY as effectively as possible
As your first step, you should find out if there is some form of ideas management within your company. When you submit your ideas there, you should be able to answer WHY as effectively as possible: WHY is your idea a good idea? To know this, you must consider whether or not your idea is of interest to your company, if there is a market for your idea and what expertise you have at your disposal to be able to go about implementing the suggested solution. The more effectively you can answer WHY, the more likely it is that people will listen.
Tip 2: Two heads are better than one
Some ideas are developed by lone individuals behind closed doors, but frankly speaking, these are few and far between. Good ideas usually come about when people meet, discuss their ideas and stimulate each other’s minds. Always be receptive to suggestions, even if it means sometimes accepting criticism. Two heads are better than one, so gather opinions from your colleagues and friends, as well as lateral and free thinkers. Talk about your idea during lunch, your coffee break, or, if your company offers this, during ‘free innovation time’. Doing this will help good ideas to become even better. I would also recommend taking a look at the book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’, by US author Steven Johnson, for inspiration in this area. There is also a related video with Steven Johnson that can be viewed on YouTube.
Tip 3: Do not throw in the towel straight away!
Do not be too disappointed when your ideas do not get off the ground! If you haven’t gotten anywhere a couple of times, it does not mean that your ideas are bad. At most companies, the innovation process is like a funnel: You want to be able to throw lots of ideas in at the top end and purposefully filter concepts throughout the process to get the best proposals onto the market. In other words, do not get disheartened. Resources are always limited, and the innovation process is no different.
Tip 4: Find a sponsor
You can try to find a ‘sponsor’ or an advocate for your idea to take things to the next level. At MANN+HUMMEL, for example, it is the product champions that do this. If you manage to convince a product champion about your idea, they will advocate for you and act as a mediator between you and those at the decision-making level. Sometimes, reaching this stage is half the battle.
Tip 5: If all else fails, roll up your sleeves and persevere!
Of course, it is possible that your idea does not catch on and you do not manage to find a sponsor. If you are still convinced that your proposal is a goer, however, all you can do is roll your sleeves up and keep persevering. No one else will do this for you. Take inspiration from the story of the little yellow post-it; it took Dr. Spencer Silver, its inventor, six years to make his idea a success. Nowadays, post-it notes are considered to be one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. Maybe one day your idea will be considered in a similar light!