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Why Your Boss Will Crush Your Innovative Ideas (bbc.com) 154

dryriver writes: BBC Capital explores why good ideas people have in the workplace almost never reach the top decision-makers in a company. From the report: "Surely you've heard the plea from on high at your company: we want more innovation, from everyone at every level. Your boss might even agree with the sentiment -- because, of course, who doesn't like innovation? It's good for everyone, right? Yet when it comes to innovating at your job it might be better to lower your expectations -- and then some. Your idea is far more likely to die on your boss's desk than it is to reach the CEO. It's not that top managers don't want new ideas. Rather, it's the people around you -- your colleagues, your manager -- who are unlikely to bend toward change. Today, big companies that don't innovate face extinction. 'Companies are almost forced to say that they are changing these days,' says Lynn Isabella, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in the U.S. But, 'it's not organizations that resist change; people resist,' says Isabella. 'The people have to see what's in it for them.'" As mentioned in the report, some of the key questions that the people whom you pitch your ideas to will ask themselves include, what does this innovation mean for me personally -- will it be more challenging or will it lead to more career opportunities, and what will it mean for my job -- will I get fired or will it be (or was it) worth it? Many times the answers to these questions don't stack up in favor of the innovation, Isabella says. As a result, the people who need to buy in don't push for change.
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Why Your Boss Will Crush Your Innovative Ideas

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  • Look the people on top have a lot to do and do not appreciate your noise as it implies incompetence. Let the big boys deal with this issue and focus instead on more important things for your job title

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Don't you worry about Planet Express! Let me worry about blank!"

  • He sure thought so. He could have been the poster child for the "Good Ideas, Only Rejected by the PHB" crowd. Every day he would have a new idea that would "revitalize, invigorate, and make the company (in his profession) excel."

    Only problem was, they were exceedingly stupid, painfully ignorant ideas. Sorry, Dad.

    • My grandfather worked at Belling and had the idea that you could make an oven that had a more even temperature by moving the air around. His manager killed the idea, saying that everyone knows that fans cool things and so they'd never be able to sell the idea of an oven with a fan inside. I wonder how many other people had the same idea before someone decided to try it and see if they could sell it.

    • Well, if it's not in the Player's Handbook it should be rejected. If he wanted to implement something new he should have talked to the DM first.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:02PM (#53950693)

    If you work at a profitable company, change is dangerous. The way that things were done before led to the current profitable state, any significant change risks upsetting that magic apple cart that nobody really fully understands how to build up again in the current environment, so don't do anything that might risk my next quarterly bonus, right?

    If you work at an unprofitable company, that's not sustainable, innovate all you like, without a minor miracle (which will have little or nothing to do with any "innovative idea" and everything to do with external forces beyond the company's control) you'll be getting your layoff notice soon enough.

    • by Comrade Ogilvy ( 1719488 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @11:45PM (#53951117)


      It is a matter of how expectations are set, and thus the bonus incentives to the managers. Profitable companies have their cash cows and those are usually somewhat mature products. Managers are expected to reliably improve those products... or else. Most truly innovative ideas fail. The managers are incentivized to avoid ideas that are likely to fail. Thus throttling big innovative ideas is entirely rational -- they are literally getting paid to do so.

      That is why startups work. They can have a business model that accepts a 90% chance of outright failure, if the payout for success is sufficiently high.

      In theory, a profitable company could have a "skunk works" division that does its wild innovations in an appropriate business model for that kind of work. Few CEOs have the courage to maintain such a division long enough to build a track record, when it could easily be axed to cut costs and make that next quarter bonus.

      • Have seen quite a few internal unofficial skunkworks projects. They start out at bad ideas and end up as bad ideas. Then they sometimes get abandoned half completed, but because it's half completed upper management doesn't want to completely discard it so they assign someone to try and chisel it into a working idea. Or sometimes the person making the idea gets bored and leaves the project to other people to try and figure out (coming up with the idea and doing 25% of it is the fun part, after that it's t

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:27AM (#53951893) Journal

        Profitable companies have their cash cows and those are usually somewhat mature products

        This also makes it very difficult to make an innovative change that disrupts that market. There's a story of some SGI engineers approaching their managers with a design for a cut-down version of SGI's graphics processor that they could make for a tenth the price of the workstation model and which would get almost half the performance. They said they could stick it on a PCI card and sell it to a few orders of magnitude more customers. Management said no, because it would cannibalise the workstation market: who'd buy an SGI workstation when you could get a commodity PC with a comparatively cheap expansion card and get similar ballpark performance? The engineers left and joined a new startup called nVidia. The managers were exactly right in one respect: Cheap GPUs did kill the proprietary graphics workstation market. They were wrong in assuming that if they didn't do something then no one else would.

        Many of the successful large companies have, at least once, been willing to say 'well, most of our profit comes from here, but that's a market that someone is going to disrupt soon, we'd better do it before the competition' and launch a product that kills one of their revenue streams. IBM did this accidentally with the PC. Apple did this with the iPhone (remember when a huge chunk of their revenue came from the iPod? Now who would buy an iPod when any mobile phone works fine as a portable music player).

        • It's easier, and more profitable, to throw up barriers to competition for a successful product than it is to innovate the product and make it better - especially to innovate the product and make it cost less.

        • The SGI story above just isn't true. In fact, SGI bosses there typically said "yes," costing the company billions, and in my opinion, causing it's ultimate (1st) downfall. NVidia: First off, NVidia was founded in 1993 by Jen-Hsun Huang (from LSI and AMD), Chris Malachowsky (from Sun), and Curtis Priem (from Sun). None of these guys worked at SGI. Yes, there were trickles of engineers who left SGI to go to NVidia - and 3dfx, Quantum3d, ATI, and E&S. The mass exodus of SGI engineers to NVidia did not
          • Sure but it wasn't 3dfx which killed SGI's core business. 3dfx's hardware couldn't run OpenGL applications worth a damn. What killed SGI was Intergraph, Windows NT, Pentium Pro, and eventually NVIDIA.

            • by BuckB ( 1340061 )


              Intergraph's workstation business died before SGI was in real trouble. Intergraph had spent $1B on their workstations and wound up with a buggy (due to Intel) machine that went for $20k, while at the time most people could get an Octane for that same price. The only people who bought Intergraph workstations were people who bought Intergraph software, so there wasn't any overlap in markets through the 90s. In fact, we often used the Intergraph example as why you should buy an SGI workstation.

              3dfx didn

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @02:45AM (#53951553)

      We got new upper management. All about change. They even bad mouth the big legacy products that built the company up and is still the source of the profits that give the execs their jobs. I wish they would sit and see reality for a moment instead of chasing the latest fad.

      But even before they came on board some groups were resistant to change but others were trying to change things all the time. Most change though doesn't come up from the ground upwards. It comes from sales where they promised a feature to customers that doesn't exist yet.

      Resistance to change is practical too. We have a job that we have to do; we've promised to customers and have a contract, if we don't deliver it we pay a penalty. That means you can't go and steal 5 of my workers for your new amazing project. Everyone's short handed and multitasking constantly. So someone says "we need to stop what we're doing and do X" and it won't be met with applause. Or the idea just gets put onto the back burner to fizzle out because literally everything else has higher priority.

      • We got new upper management. All about change. They even bad mouth the big legacy products that built the company up and is still the source of the profits that give the execs their jobs. I wish they would sit and see reality for a moment instead of chasing the latest fad.

        You don't work for the US gov do you?

    • Well said. I will add that, one will find that leaders, managers, and bosses are better suited to the title of warden. They are entrusted with the oversight of the operations their title affords them. I find those in leadership rarely inspire and merely govern insuring the current operations perform at optimum levels. Any delta change that innovation requires tingles with unknown and unanswered variables. This goes counter to the warden persona. These people require guiding hands and hence the rise of the c
      • Buyouts have a more predictable ROI. Do you want a company that returns an annual average 20% on investment over 30 years, but varies between -30% and +50% as it goes, or do you want a company that returns an annual average of 7% on investment year after year, varying between 5% and 9% as it goes?

        Startups return between -100% and 10,000% on investment, averaging something like 25% in the big picture. It's not a game for the marginally financed, which most of us are.

    • If you work at an unprofitable company, that's not sustainable, innovate all you like...

      Nope! You can't be innovative in an unprofitable company. That takes risk and resources the company can't spare! You have to copy the competition until you are better than they are.

      • Copying the competition is one approach, a common one, and ultimately it limits you to being a bit-player, if you get too big doing that, the originator of the IP will come after you and sue your profits out. If the successful established company doesn't have IP protection, they'll have other forms of market protection that will make life just as painful for you (vendor lockout agreements, etc.)

        I've been in a number of the "truly innovative" better mousetrap companies. The world did not beat a path to our

        • Copying the competition is one approach, a common one, and ultimately it limits you to being a bit-player...

          I never said it was a good approach. But it's perceived as being low risk. Unprofitable companies are even more risk adverse than profitable ones. The only companies willing to take significant risks are startups.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:08PM (#53950717)

    Most of what passes for "innovation" these days is really just illusion. We're better off without "innovations" like Uber, for example. The fundamentals of Uber are flawed, but their illusory "innovations" keep investors happy. Nevertheless, the fundamentals can't be ignored forever...

    • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:20PM (#53950775)
      You hit the nail on the head when you said "keep investors happy". Everyone says that consumer dollars should be the motivating force in capitalism, but it's not. It's shareholders running the show.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Everyone says that consumer dollars should be the motivating force in capitalism, but it's not.

        It should, but it requires all of a list of things to be true:

        • The market must have healthy competition
        • Customers should be well-informed
        • Customers should be rational

        The first is sometimes untrue. The second is usually untrue. The last is almost never true.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @11:34PM (#53951045) Homepage

        No it is all as shallow as fuck. If they can steal the idea from employees and claim it as their own and it makes them a lot of money, it goes ahead. If they can not steal the idea at the moment, they crush the idea and then try to steal it in the future and throw in so bullshit refinement and claim it as their own. If they can not generate enough money from the idea personally, the kill the idea, steal it and then create a new company built around it. If they can not profit from the idea, they kill the idea, then present a bargain to a competitor, who takes over and then announces the idea as their own. They also will temporarily bury ideas so they can up their shares and basically insider trade on the new idea.

        Psychopath corporate executives only ever work for themselves and they will steal from investors, steal from other executives, steal from staff, steal from customers and steal from the societies as a whole.

        How many executives demonstrate the peter principle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. Lie, cheat and steal to the top, fuck it all up and disappear with a golden parachute. Just look at the M&M and Yahoo, lots bullshit and then failure. Only plan, making remote workers come into the office so she could steal their ideas and claim them as her own. Typical corporate executive business practice. That those ass hats are exceptional is just corporate executive marketing via corporate promoting main stream media because it is all about their ego.

      • Maybe in Silicon Valley, but all over the world there are privately held companies that don't have shareholders. Who is the motivating force there?
    • Success is 99% hard work and 1% innovation.
  • So True. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:09PM (#53950721) Homepage

    If you want real innovation, you need to have the person who is really doing the asking do the vetting directly, or hire an outside consultant to do it.

    Lets say you come up with a great idea. It will cut your work load in half, effectively letting half the people do the same work. Assume that means your department is given slightly more work - but not double. So your boss changes his plans to hire two more people to instead fire one person. But he won't get the credit for saving the money, you do. And your boss's salary and power are based on how much money his department spends.

    Best case senario, you get promoted. You are now directly competeing with your old boss. After he lost one of his best employee (as you came up with this great idea).

    Worst case scenario, the idea fails.

    Why would your boss promote your innovation? No incentive.

    • by Orphis ( 1356561 )

      That's assuming that a promotion means that you have to become a manager from a skilled technician, which isn't true.
      Sure, maybe companies do it this way, but that's in reality a totally different job and skill set.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      If you want real innovation, you need to have the person who is really doing the asking do the vetting directly, or hire an outside consultant to do it.

      So your recommendation is to bring in the Bobs?

      The hard part is finding the bosses that listen to ideas for change, which are very rare. As GP stated, many people see change as dangerous. Worse than that, many people feel change makes them look bad. Their idea 10 years ago was great, and their ego relies on that same idea hanging around. Their usefulness to the company is challenged by new ideas, so they push back against it.

      Grass roots activism is the best way to go, but not always successful. I have

    • If someone came to me with an idea that cut the workload and was actually practical, I would accept it. The reason most ideas aren't accepted is that they inevitably cause more work overall (though they often seem to involve less work or more convenience for the person with the idea, probably not a coincidence). A lot of workers are blind to the realities that occur in other departments, they don't have to stand in front of the VP or director and get shouted at because a project is going to be late, they

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The average job description is "you do as you're told".

  • I've always found keeping a direct line of communication with CEO and board is the best way. Just Cc your boss in the emails on your amazing cost saving innovative idea and thank your boss for allowing you to go direct to the top. If the CEO likes what you've said win win for you and your boss. Your boss isn't going to chew you out if it looks like he already approved you going up the chain and your idea is approved, that would be a show of a bad boss.
    But honestly chatting with the CEO whenever you pass on

  • They had an internal email address where you could email your ideas. Mine was to have the phone hold the data, when you were at your desk you could plug it into a docking station and get more storage, a keyboard, and a display. Plus it would run Word, Excel, whatever. Got rejected :(
    • In fairness, the docking station you describe was attempted by... was it motorola... on a specific line of android phones. It failed miserably (at least commercially).

      • by Paco103 ( 758133 )

        The Motorola Atrix. I had it.
        It failed because
        1) The "full desktop and office suite" was actually just a full version of Firefox on android. Everything else was just fullscreen apps. The 'office suite' was just google docs in firefox, which was less than ideal over a mobile connection, and offline docs didn't exist at the time.
        2) The laptop doc was $300. Phones were still not that powerful yet at the time, and for that price I could buy a real laptop. I bought mine when they had a fire sale at $50.

  • by belthize ( 990217 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:33PM (#53950821)

    I despise the new MBA management style that all ideas have merit or that there are no stupid questions.

    In my experience many of the people I've run across who complain that the company managers (or me when I was in that position) don't respect their ideas don't realize that their ideas are crap. They typically have a very myopic view of what the company does, what it needs or what constitutes a good idea. They have no real concept of risk, logistics, development overhead, basic physics, human nature or a slew of other issues. Their ideas can be frequently characterized as 'wouldn't be cool if'.

    I rose through the ranks with a GED and no college education in an environment dominated by PhDs by having what turned out to be good ideas.

    So sure, in some environments, good ideas are squashed by pointy haired bosses, but many times it's just a dumb idea.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And how will those people grow and learn that the idea wasn't good because they didn't take into consideration XYZ when their managers lie to them by saying it's a good idea while the manager tosses it into the trash? These aren't bad employees, they're trying to improve the company the best they can. These are crappy managers who won't help their underlings grow.

      "Wouldn't it be cool if" should be followed up with "and how will that fit in with YXZ?"

    • Don't know why you're getting all the hate, but I have squashed my share of dumb ideas. I love it when new people come in and instantly know what we should change.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Innovation is bullshit. Do your job, do it well, and explain to all your barely competent peers how to imitate your behaviors. 80% of wasted potential at work is because people don't know even 20% of what they should. Low hanging fruit, people.

    The only good reason to "innovate" is to convince some dope you need a charge number to use for jerking off in the supply closet.

    That, or if you are the kind that likes playing office politics and you think you can make some other asshole lose face by making their wor

    • It is quite easy for a business to get stuck in an illogical process, and it generally takes someone not invested in the details of that process to force change. Identifying tools to break the chain is one way, and generally needs people with different experience. At my company we are completely changing the way we do about 40% of our work due to switching software systems. This creates opportunities to look at the remaining 60%, and try to see what has changed.

      The same thing happened when the fax machin
  • Systems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2017 @10:41PM (#53950859) Homepage Journal

    First thing you have to realise is that Systems Exist.
    Systems follow very specific laws. The first Law of Systems is that all Systems follow the Law of Self Preservation. The second Law of Systems is that all Systems Fight Against Change within themselves. Systems follow the Law of Structural Conformity. Systems follow the Law of Growth and Development.

    1. Systems Exist.
    2. Systems Preserve Themselves.
    3. Systems Fight Against Change Within.
    4. Systems Ensure Structural Conformity.
    5. Systems Grow and Develop.

    All of these laws of Systems exist only to protect the Systems from being destroyed. Systems do not care about innovation or quality, they care to grow, to protect themselves from change that can cause self destruction, they ensure that all of their internal structures are organized to ensure self preservation, they grow just to become bigger and to have a better chance of survival.

    Once you understand this you will understand why it is obvious and expected that systems prevent any type of innovation coming from individuals within the system.

    It is also important to understand one more thing: when systems cannot cope with something, they stop it, they may destroy it, but if the fundamentals upon which the system relies are themselves flawed, the system reliance on those fundamentals also makes those systems ultimately vulnerable to destruction.

  • I had to read the first sentence 3 times just to figure out WTF the summary was trying to discuss.
  • Because once they're accepted by the company, they're no longer yours, but the company's. Even if they say no to you, they may later fire you and claim your idea as theirs.

    A difference must be made. On one side, there's your job and what you're paid to do for the company, how you use the company's time and resources, in order to contribute to their projects and achieve their goals.

    On the other side, you, your own ideas, projects and goals, which hopefully shouldn't overlap those of the company; what you do

  • Maybe what has been said here applies only to huge corporations. In almost all of the companies I've worked for, the boss was very happy to hear my ideas. We might argue over some of them but, generally, he was entirely happy to steal them outright. My code, my policies, my naming schemes... or should I say, "his". I got paid for it. I'm only mildly miffed. I have more where that came from. Still, I was the engine in his company, and the one before it, and the one before that. That's kind've why I got the j

    • Maybe what has been said here applies only to huge corporations. In almost all of the companies I've worked for, the boss was very happy to hear my ideas. We might argue over some of them but, generally, he was entirely happy to steal them outright. My code, my policies, my naming schemes... or should I say, "his". I got paid for it. I'm only mildly miffed. I have more where that came from. Still, I was the engine in his company, and the one before it, and the one before that. That's kind've why I got the jobs, though, so this had an adequate payout. They did always listen.


      I was at a global all-hands meeting for my division of GE a year or two ago (I'm a project manager). Our GM went through all the numbers for our industry - we own most of the market share in most areas of the world except for the United States, and his challenge for the upcoming year was to increase market penetration in the U.S. by 4%.

      Now..it just so happened that as a project manager, my metrics for success are revenue, margin, and customer satisfaction - and if there's one thing you can cou

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @01:22AM (#53951397) Homepage

    It's execution that's hard. Sure, the person on the shop floor or in the cube farm might have an idea that seems great, but making that idea happen politically within the organization is very, very hard. People don't like change. That "good" idea might be somebody else's worst nightmare, and they're going to fight tooth and nail to keep it from happening. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just reality. That's why people who CAN change things become the leaders.

  • Sounds dysfunctional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @01:33AM (#53951419)

    Did they use only dysfunctional large orgs for their research? Many ideas "die on my desk" because they don't make sense. And it's not the idea generator's fault; he or she has a more narrow viewport into the business's operations and strategy. It's important to shoot bad ideas down in the right way, though, because 1 in 20 will be brilliant, and another 5 might cause you to think about something related that could work. So you don't want to discourage innovative people, which is naturally what you would end up doing if you're shooting down 19 out of 20 ideas.

    The other thing I think is weird about this article is that the biggest problem with ideas is change management, and the biggest problem with change management is rallying the rank and file behind it. It's great to have this cool new flavor of agile that everyone should use, and I might agree with you, but how do we roll that out and get everyone to buy in? And how many such things can we roll out until people get tired of change? It's great to beat up management for "ignoring" ideas, but I think it let's the largest % of the company off the hook for being perennially resistant to change.

    • Agree here. A lot of people can't see the big picture. I see a lot of ideas about switching to different tools for example, but they seem to think it's easy to do. But you've got to get some budget for it, you have to get buy in from many departments, and so on. But even worse, it will take TIME and slow down everyone.

      I see a lot of ideas that about about making the work environment more comfortable for the person with the ideas. They may think they're helping out the entire team but you never see the

      • The one innovation we tried to get buy in for that failed miserably was a significant means to reduce the amount of printing going on in the organization as well as reduce order entry errors by relying on OCR. We currently print off a document, on average, roughly 1.8 times due to having multiple physical locations all copies of which are destroyed and we have a number of digital copies of this document equivalent to approximately 3-4 times thanks to mailboxes and document management systems. The current pr

  • by wakeboarder ( 2695839 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @01:51AM (#53951461)

    Lets be honest, most of our innovative ideas are pure tripe. Why? Because it needs to be good for everyone, you, your department, the company and the customers. How many ideas are going to be good ideas for everyone, not many.

  • Being a good Big Boss isn't often about bright ideas - it's about choosing among people and their ideas (or other skills). And balancing product/org. ideas against corporate finance ideas too. Better an overpromoted football coach than a dreamy scientist. (No, I didn't mention US politics).
  • Look at yourselves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:37AM (#53951927)

    The mindset expressed in the posting here is a perfect illustration of exactly what is the article's main point: the all-out negative attitude that pervades the teams at floor-level; and, may I add, this is particularly common among SW engineers, believe it or not. I think we all imagine that we are clever and sometimes inspired thinkers who are excited about new technology and new ways of doing things - but are we really? I have seen it again and again: any article that tries to present a new insight to /. seems to be met with this hailstorm of negative comments, and I see it here again. There's the comments along the lines of "This is [obscenity of choice] obvious, what a load of shit", and the "Most [obscenity of choice] idiots who think they are so [obscenity of choice] clever are just [obscenity of choice] idiots" as well as the usual N-step list of reasons why it is never going to work (which is marked "5 insightful", of course).

    This article is in fact rather well written, and I think the reason it receives so much negativity here is exactly because it hits too close to home for many people: You it is true, and most of us are almost instictively against anything new, however much we pride ourselves of being the opposite. That includes myself, I have to say, but I try to be conscious about it from time to time, and try to be open minded. In Denmark we call this mindset "the Law of Jante" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante); Terry Pratchett calls it "the crab bucket" (in Unseen Academicals, if you want to check) - the explanation being that if you observe a bucket full of crabs, you will see that some times one will start climbing out, and then the others grabs it and pulls it back down. "Don't think you are cleverer than us".

    Can't you see it? People around you can't find the way out of the bucket, but they sure can stop you from escaping the misery and a future in which you are all dumped into boiling water. This is one of the main reasons why people hate going to work, and why innovation only ever happens if the company buys up another company that has already developed the innovation; but it does not have to be like that. This is one of the admittedly few occasions where the blame doesn't fall on incompetent management, but on yourself and the people around you; that means that it ought to be something we can actually change, by a change of attitude.

    • This is one of the main reasons why people hate going to work,

      If people hate going to work, then they really shouldn't...
      I understand it's easy to say, but there are actually few situations when one is better going to a work he hates than trying to make his life worthy of living.

  • jeez, so many negative comments in this thread. I wish I knew better about your jobs, to make sure I never get one of these. I must say we have a positive environment towards innovation. We have a constant program that qualifies ideas and supports the good ones with a budget. The thing is, a rough feeling of a "brilliant" idea os not enough. You have to work on it yourself, and prove that it is worth investing on it. Then you get it a few hours to mature your idea and make a plan. Passing that, you can get
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not rea

  • This is simply and succinctly explained in this cartoon, Safe Is Risky [marketoonist.com], from 2014.

    In a nutshell:

    Organizations can spot the risks of a new idea a mile away. But there’s a curious blind spot when it comes to the risks of not taking those risks. The path of least resistance is to play it safe and keep the idea as close to the tried-and-true as possible. We just need to ask Polaroid how that strategy works in the long run.

    Executives and entrepreneurs face two very different sorts of risks. One is that their organization will make a bold move that failed — a risk they call ‘sinking the ship.’ The other is that their organization will fail to make a bold move that would have succeeded — a risk they call ‘missing the boat.’

    Naturally, most executives worry more about sinking the boat than missing the boat, which is why so many organizations, even in flush times, are so cautious and conservative.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The subject says it all. Think about it.

  • by Xamusk ( 702162 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:28AM (#53953517)

    On one interview, a manager actually told me that I wasn't fit for the job because I was too innovative. They were looking for people to do more of the same, even if they had a lot of room for improvement, they didn't want it.

    • On one of my early evaluations, I got a "too creative" comment. Now I just use my creativity on Easter Eggs that the bosses don't see.
  • by maiden_taiwan ( 516943 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @02:23PM (#53955263)

    I work for a company that's reasonably large (8000+ people) and is consistently profitable, and we prize and celebrate innovation. People are encouraged to try out ideas quickly and if they fail, at least they failed fast. We have an intranet website where people post their successes and learnings. I personally know many coworkers who came up with ideas, implemented them, and made money for the company.

    I am a technical manager of a team that specializes in automating manual processes and eliminating waste. I very intentionally leave room for my direct reports to innovate. If they come to me with an idea -- this is a critical point -- I treat my opinion as a HYPOTHESIS, not as absolute truth. After all, I am just guessing whether their idea will work or not. I'd rather have them build a minimum viable example to get some empirical evidence if their idea will work or not.

    If I think their idea has no chance whatsoever of succeeding, I'll put forward my objections and see if they have good answers for them. This discussion is important. Sometimes they show me I am wrong, which is fine with me. (Nobody's perfect.) Other times my objections spur them to come up with a more robust idea.

    Anyway, not all companies are pits of innovation death.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A company I worked for had a plan from day 1 to sell the company in a specific time. Shortly after I was hired I saw an opportunity to really revamp the manual and time consuming processes. I automated several tasks for my own use/sanity. I attempted to demonstrate time is money. Long story short, because I didn't know the red flags to look for this lead to a hostile job environment and attacking write-ups. The owners/VPs didn't care about improving any process. It was just a mad dash to whip employees to w

  • But reserve the right to sue the begeezus out of anyone that quits and tried to implement them elsewhere (either on their own or by joining another company).

  • If you being asked to contribute, that is an indicator of lazy or dumb management - You give the "idea" work, they get the pay! Go work for a better smaller company. You are not garbage, nor something to be disposed of after your idea is given.
  • Or is this some intern grumbling that his boss didn't buy into his suggestion to port the company product to Esolang?

  • Why, you could write a whole book about this. And someone did.

    Clayton Christensen. _The Innovator's Dilemma_. http://www.claytonchristensen.... [claytonchristensen.com]

Building translators is good clean fun. -- T. Cheatham