When it comes to innovation and sharing our creative ideas at work, we all know to be wary of negative bosses and co-workers who shoot down every idea. These people can be a deterrent to change and innovation, but if we’re persistent we learn how to go around them to get things done.
The real people to be wary of are the ones who seem like they’re open to new ideas, but always have some reason the idea won’t work or shouldn’t be implemented yet. They are masters of “killer phrases” that masquerade as knowledge or experience, but many times are not justified and simply stand in the way of progress.
Look out for killer phrases that start with “That’s a good idea, but…”
- It’s against company policy
- It’s not practical
- It’s not necessary
- We don’t have the resources
- It will cost too much
- We’ve never done it that way
- Our customers (or vendors) won’t like it
- It needs more study
- It’s not part of your job
- Let’s make a survey first
- Let’s sit on it for a while
- That’s not our problem
- The boss won’t go for it
- The old timers won’t use it
- It’s too hard to administer
- Why hasn’t someone else suggested it before?
- Let’s form a committee
- We should wait until the economy improves
- Who else has tried it?
- Is it best practice?
When you are hit with one of these killer phrases, see if you can get to the bottom of it. Is the person simply afraid of change, or do they have data to back up their objection? Has something similar been tried in the past? If so, why did it fail?
In some cases, it might be the idea itself really is too ambitious or costly or outrageous (not a bad thing, by any means). Instead of taking no for an answer, work to “decompose” the idea into smaller parts. Just as an egg has a shell, a membrane, a white part and a yolk, most ideas have layers upon layers of creativity that can be redesigned, repurposed, reshaped, repackaged, reassembled or reconstructed into a viable idea that can be acted on.
When you know how to decompose an idea into its useful parts, you have a powerful defense against killer phrases and the people who wield them.
Kamal Hassan is President and CEO of Innovation 360 Institute, and is responsible for leading the company’s global operations and customer acquisition.