Project Practitioners > Ideas That Stick

Ideas That Stick

By Ann Drinkwater

If you follow my column, you have seen my articles on how good project managers have radar and are able to predict situations. Good project managers are also strong, insightful business leaders. This can be both challenging and rewarding.

One of the challenges I often see highly intuitive and knowledgeable project managers or business leaders experience is that organizations often do not fully “hear” initial ideas or understand their significance. Personal approaches I have tried to counteract this situation include developing analogies, what-if scenarios and other methods to illustrate my vision and precautions. Still many organizations do not take the proper action.

I once had a boss who insightfully suggested to me that an individual’s education and background allows him/her to develop strong business intuition and awareness. This results in certain managers “seeing” issues where others simply do not. For me, this dialogue resulted in an immediate connection to this leader and an observation I never forgot.

After receiving this feedback, I continued to work with organizations and leaders where I observed this insight first hand. In an attempt to improve my communication style and the organizations I work for, I adjusted my approach for delivering suggestions to include more examples of how I have personally implemented the recommended change in other situations. However, more often than not, this additional detail often didn’t fully sell the organization on my idea in the time frame I was hoping (for maximum organizational impact).

While recently listening to the Wharton Business School radio program, this topic was discussed by many high-powered executives at Fortune 50 organizations. Hearing others describe their struggles really hit home. These executives described their similar challenge and collectively realized that the challenge is that the organization or leader wasn’t “ready” for the idea. It could be too early for the organization or person to see the challenge and true benefit of an idea. While it may feel that the organization is brushing you off, in reality it is more that the organization or leader just isn’t ready for your idea. Our organizations are made up of complex individuals with differing backgrounds and experiences, which increases the acceptance challenge. With this affirmation from high profile, business leaders, it signifies the need to stay the course with an idea, continue to adapt the suggestion to our unique environments and continuously plant the seeds for organizational growth.

For me, I am not saying I won’t be abundantly energized for my ideas. But what I will do differently is lay the foundation and lay each brick, piece-by-piece. Persistence and resiliency are key to making an idea stick.

~Ann E. Drinkwater

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