Guest AuthorPavan Soni

Never take an idea to your boss!

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist 

Now this might sound a corny advise. 
One might argue that taking an idea to your boss is a bad idea in India, for bosses are eternally busy micromanaging you, or aren’t just open to the idea that you can come up with one. If you still venture taking your idea to your boss, the most likely response you would get is – where’s the report I asked of you last evening? 
However, my research and insights from the field suggest that indeed taking an idea straight away to you boss isn’t a good idea after all.
To bring home the point, let me draw an analogy.
Imagine you have a small child, say of age two. Now she is the most adorable thing to you in the whole wide world. She might as well be the world for you. Do you think that your neighbors share the same love for your child as you do? Even remotely close? Most likely, not. It’s not because your child is not lovely, in fact, every child is, but simply because your neighbors are preoccupied.  
Now, if you neighbor, who might be connected to you in a non-professional manner, doesn’t share the same love as you do for a living being who is genuinely adorable, how can you even imagine that your boss would share any excitement for your figment of imagination, that’s just in your mind. As a matter of fact, not appreciating your idea is the most natural course of action, and should not even come as a surprise to you.
I hope you don’t blame your boss for not sharing your level of excitement, for your neighbor didn’t. Both are probably justified. 
So, if not bosses, whom should you take your ideas to?
The gold standard for a good research in the community that I belong to is – peer review. A peer reviewed journal is supposed to have a high quality of publication than one which comes through some recommendation, or where papers aren’t subjected to the scrutiny of others in the field.
The same should apply for corporate. This indeed is a practice with several firms, such as Amazon or Google, where funding typically happens when you come up with a team that supports your idea. Imagine, if you can’t convince your peers of the value of your idea, how would you ever convince your customer to even pay for it? 
Most ideas fail because they aren’t scrutinized by the fearsome peer community. This also eases the management of selecting the ideas they should fund. If you wish to lower your cases of Type-A error (failed innovations), as well as Type-B error (missed innovations), you should probably open up the idea portal, or the entire idea management program, to peer review. Having a single point of failure, such as a committee that decides on which ideas to fund, or worst still, an individual manager, often leads to Type-B errors, which are far more costly than Type-A errors.
To sum up, let your ideas meet the wrath of your peer community, and only the ‘fittest’ ideas should be funded. Your boss won’t have any excuse for not funding your idea if you have already convinced your peers on its merit. So, finally, the buck indeed stops with you!
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