Why is getting support for new ideas such a challenge? By nature, human beings are not fond of change; we are suspect of new things about which we know nothing and new initiatives in which we had no input. The following tips serve as guidance to help us understand these basic human characteristics, minimize their disruption to progress, and maximize our success when seeking support for new ideas:
Leverage the minds around you: New ideas have a much better survival rate when they are nurtured, tested and then delivered by a group, versus a single individual. Our egos can cause us to seek absolute control over our best ideas. But taking sole ownership over our ideas and being reluctant to share the credit costs us the benefit of input and feedback (including questions, opposing views and pushback) from others in our organization or the customer organization.
Mix it up: The format and time allotted for you to “present” your idea will fluctuate. Be prepared to articulate your idea in a written, spoken, and visual format, as well as in varying timeframes. Your immediate supervisor may read your 10-page proposal and sit through an hour-long presentation, but other decision makers may not be as generous. Therefore, it is essential that you be able to share your vision across many formats, whether it is via a two-minute elevator pitch or a two-hour presentation.
Think in terms of a campaign, not an event: If your revolutionary ideas haven’t been well received in the past, consider seeking incremental agreement to your new concept. In history, and in business, the most significant changes often come in small steps. Keep your focus on continual progress toward your goal rather than expecting one glorious and dramatic event.
Propose a pilot: The level of resistance to change is reduced significantly if the change is temporary. Proposing a test, or pilot of your concept, with a provision for review and assessment, will disarm even the most risk averse in your audience.
Whether making a sales pitch to customers or pitching a new idea within your own organization, there are many factors that impact your level of influence. Simple strategies like these will better position your next big idea for acceptance.