How to gain support for your Great Idea

So you’ve introduced a new idea to your organization and it’s stalling. Or people are grumbling about it. Or they just don’t “get” it. 

Maybe you’ve simply forgotten one of the key principles of introducing an idea: you have to bring people along with you. 

As the creator of the Great Idea, you’ve likely been thinking about it for months, perhaps years. You know why it’s important. You’ve mulled it over and over again, and the more you consider it, the more certain you are about it.

That makes the lackluster response your getting all the more frustrating. Why can’t they get on board already?

Maybe the problem is not with the idea. It may be with you.

Think of introducing an idea to your organization like leading an armada. As the captain of the lead ship, you set the destination and the pace. But if you haven’t engaged the other captains in the armada on your idea early enough, it’s as if you’ve sailed off without them and you’re wondering why they won’t follow. It’s possible you’ve already sailed that idea over their horizon. And you may have even picked up pace doing it, leaving you wondering why they won’t follow, and them wondering why you’re so disconnected from the realities of the business to chase such a silly idea.

How can you get everyone back on course?

  • Show why. You have one of two options: push them harder, which risks compliance without buy-in, or turn your ship around and rejoin the armada. What does that mean? Simply this: don’t set sail on the Great Idea until everyone is settled on the why. Research has shown that people are more likely to persevere through challenges when they have internalized their reason for doing something. No journey towards the Great Idea will be free of inclement weather, and the best way to prepare for the journey is to make sure everyone knows why it’s being undertaken in the first place.
  • Invite ownership. Which is more important: that the Great Idea is implemented just as you envision it, or that the essence of the Great Idea is implemented? The subtle distinction is important because buy-in often means giving others the opportunity to shape the Great Idea too, just as you have. Harry S. Truman said, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.” 
  • Cheer initiative. The ultimate test of whether your Great Idea is catching on is when the other ships start to push out in front of you. They’re carrying the idea forward with their momentum, not just yours. Cheer them on. You can take pride that Great Idea is getting stronger with more captains behind it. 

Don’t let your Great Idea become a casualty just because you’ve been sailing with it longer than your team. Help it succeed by aligning the full strength of your armada behind it. 

Comment below: What are some signs you’ve seen that you’ve sailed away from your armada in introducing a new idea?

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