The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “They can’t deal with innovation...”

Question: I have lots of ideas for the business but my colleagues and the MD don’t take any of them up. What am I doing wrong and how can I make them listen to me? Paul

Answer: Ideas can get buried because of an aversion to risk, time pressures or just sheer bureaucracy. Or there’s a clash between personalities with an exuberant innovator and a cautious implementer.

Identify someone, ideally one of the decision makers, who can promote your idea and ask them for their advice at the very early thinking stage. Get them involved so that they can share your excitement about the added value this will give to the business and help you develop your argument. Make sure you’ve considered all of the pros and cons of your idea so you can put forward a logical, evidenced based case. If necessary promote it as a pilot which will also lessen the risk aspect.

Communicate your idea succinctly. Senior personnel are under pressure so understand what is important to them. Is it an immediate return on investment, for example, or sustained growth? Put yourself in their shoes and ensure your proposal fits with their thinking in a language that reflects their own. There’s nothing worse than putting forward a 6-page research item when they want a 1-page business summary.

The “make them listen” indicates that you are very frustrated and that is probably showing. It will antagonise so turn around that negativity and use it constructively in some of the strategies above. Even if your ideas don’t get picked up immediately you’ll start to get heard. Then you can build up a track record of success and become a valued member of the organisation.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company.  Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach.  If you have a problem then contact her at Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

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