How to get your team and your boss to love your good ideas

20 January 2017 -


The latest in our series leading up to the Management Book of the Year awards

By Management Book of the Year shortlisted author Lucy Gower

Have you ever had a new idea?

When you introduced it to your team and your boss did they embrace it with open arms? Was there a feeling of joy and excitement about the possibilities of the brighter future that your idea could command?

For most of us, regardless of whether our idea is good or bad it’s more likely that we’ll be met with nonchalance, indifference or barriers like, “that’s not how we do things here”.

The truth is that most people are apprehensive about change. We like routines and systems and are uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the changes that any new ideas might bring.

So it’s no surprise that your team isn’t overjoyed at the prospect of your latest idea. They see you as the spreader of uncertainty. Even if your idea has the potential to make their work easier, quicker or more impactful, it’s likely that in their opinion “it’s working just fine as it is - and doesn’t require changing”.

How might you get a better response to your creative ideas and suggestions for innovation?

1. Start with managing your own expectations

Don't expect anyone else to like your idea. Especially if your idea is really new or a drastically different way of approaching a situation, no one is likely to get it.

2. Pick your moment

If the person that you want to embrace your idea works from a diary, make an appointment. Don’t bound up to their desk brimming with enthusiasm for your great idea. If they are busy on something else you are unlikely to get a positive response.

3. Be direct

Tell them what you want. For example, do you initially just want someone to listen, or are you looking for them to build on your idea or to challenge it?

4. Prepare for objections

Think about what your idea means to the listener and the reasons they might not like it. Calm skepticism by working out answers for any negatives they might come back to you with, or questions they may have.

5. Push their buttons

Think about what actually motivates them, what are the parts of the idea that they will like? Specifically how will it make their lives easier or more interesting? How can you emphasise the parts of the idea that you think will resonate with them?

6. Become a storyteller

Many of the world’s very best innovators and influencers are also some of the most accomplished storytellers.

Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream' speech was a revolutionary call for the Civil Rights movement in America and Steve Jobs painted a story of his visionary future with his presentation that launched the iPad.

As human beings we’re hard wired to learn through stories. Your ability to tell stories of the brighter future with your idea in it could be the difference between your innovation staying on the drawing board or making it to the market place.


Lucy Gower is the author of The Innovation Workout, which is shortlisted in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category of the 2017 Management Book of the Year awards

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