Great holiday party themes, starting a recycling program, changes to the compensation system, ways to expand the business… Regardless of the category of idea or the scale, you’ve probably had a great idea somewhere along the way that never got heard, despite valiant attempts. That’s because you were probably thwarted by the “Idea Vampires,” those people who reject your brilliant insights, and for any number of reasons. In order to get heard, you have to learn how to work with these people to move your idea from concept to action.
Vampires are scary. Idea Vampires use fear to suck the excitement, interest and support out of new ideas. They do it in emails, meetings, and conversations after the meeting. By creating doubts, delays and distractions, they can mortally wound your good idea.
Here are some ways to move your ideas forward:
1. Make your idea the next evolutionary step. If your idea can be attached to an existing program or initiative and seen as an extension, it is less scary and more likely to be adopted.
2. Break it into bite-size steps. Break your idea into smaller pieces that can be implemented in phases. Less threatening ideas are more possible ideas.
3. Co-opt your idea onto someone else’s idea. Making something another person’s idea is a great trick you may have used in the past. A twist on this is to add an addendum to that person’s idea, which is typically most successful when that person is in a stronger power position.
4. Start smaller for traction and expand the idea for resources. In the brainstorming sessions from which ideas come, really good thoughts get squashed because they start out too big. Start your idea small. Generate interest, then consensus, and grow the idea in the conversation in order to secure resources.
5. Ask, “Under what conditions,” to open up the brainstorming. When you get thwarted by a stonewall response, see if you can crack open the door of possibility by asking, “Under what conditions do you think we could move forward?” This maneuver avoids a deadlock and may get creative juices flowing.
6. Anticipate the typical vampire blocking moves and be ready. Here are some of the usual suspects in the vampire vocabulary: “We don’t have the resources”; “This will distract from our priorities”; and “Give me an example of where this has worked,” are typical. Be ready for them with answers.
7. Seed the audience with supporters. If you have decided to present an idea in a meeting, preview your idea to some supporters in advance to get friendly voices in the discussion.
8. Put your idea forward in terms of “yield.” Executives are paid to make the performance needles move. That means a calculation of what is the yield of each idea (ratio of effort to result), in order to be successful. Remember the old saying, “There’s no limit to what you can get done if you don’t mind who gets the credit.” Make the point of your concept to create progress for the company rather than to claim personal credit, and the chances of getting your ideas implemented will go up tremendously.