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Innovation: Get Stand Out Ideas Approved By Showing How They Fit In

You have just completed two days of brainstorming. You have narrowed your ideas to the fewer, bigger, and better, and are eager to put them into action. Your next step is to share these ideas within your organization for approval to move forward.

While implementation of these ideas may give your company a competitive advantage – position you as the first or the only – they also may be perceived as too scary and risky for leadership. They may end up whittled down to something boring—or perhaps not implemented at all.

A method to reduce perceived fear and risk is to demonstrate how ideas are safe and how they fit in.

Literary Genius

Very often, when you read the description of a new book, the lead-in will start with the following phrases:

  • “Not since …”
  • “In the tradition of …”

These lead-ins are crafted to help us quickly “get” what a new, different book is about by comparing it to something we already know.

“Not since Good To Great by Jim Collins has a book …” lets buyers know this will be like the best selling Good To Great. If you like Jim Collins, you’ll probably like this new book.

“In the tradition of Tom Peters…” lets you know this book will offer a bold Tom Peters-like leadership message.

If this works to help us quickly understand how this new book is like a old book I like or respect… Why can’t we apply this concept to risky ideas? Let people know this new idea is like the old idea we like or respect.

Here are two examples…

(1) “The first time…” becomes “Not since…” – Instead of focusing on the fact that this is the first time your company is trying something, indicate how the idea is similar to some other well-known successful idea. “Not since we over-hauled the training system three years ago have we had an idea that adds so much efficiency and user-interaction.”

(2) If leadership is afraid to be “the only” company trying something, reframe it as “In the tradition of… – This allow focus on how the idea is similar to something you’re already doing, or a successful idea from outside your company. “In the tradition of high-service hotels, we are going to increase our level of service in all sectors…”

As you champion great ideas, emphasize how and where they fit into what you’re already doing. While it seems counter-intuitive, demonstrating how your ideas actually fit in may be the secret to getting you to stand out.

The book description practice is was pointed out by literary agent Raif Sagalyn and described to me by Todd Sattersten, author of 100 Best Business Books. This article was originally published on the MarketingProfs DailyFix blog.

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