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How to Introduce New Ideas
Sometimes good ideas fail to take off because they were not communicated effectively. This doesn't have to happen to your idea. Roll out the red carpet and introduce it in style. Set the stage so your idea will shine regardless of the critics. You just need a plan that will launch it toward success.
Build a Grassroots Group
Start small when introducing your idea. First introduce the idea to those you know have similar interests and will value the innovation your idea brings with it. You can always test the market by mentioning your idea informally and gauging the response it gets. Ask for help from key people who can help you persuade others. If you are new at work, ask someone who is a veteran and trusted for help. Know who the early adopters are in your organization -- if you can convince them, they will help you convince the laggards in the group. By building a grassroots group, your idea can have the support it needs when you present it to everyone else.
Deal With Skeptics
Be prepared for skeptics; every organization has them. They help maintain balance in the workplace. Enlist a tough skeptic to play the "official skeptic" or "devil's advocate" and ask for his help in finding problems with your idea. Rather than ignoring the skeptic, ask for his opinion and let him feel like his critical eye will help you fire-proof your idea. By affirming the skeptic's critique, you build his ego and soften the damage he might otherwise do, if left to complain to others. If your skeptic is a decision maker, begin the process early. You will need to work on the skeptic through personal dialogue, getting his support before introducing your idea to the group or a vote.
Help People Feel Comfortable
Use common language or analogies when introducing new ideas. People are more comfortable with what they find familiar. Introduce your idea at the right time and place. For example, don't squeeze your idea into the end of an exhausting meeting. Introduce your idea as simply as possible to begin with focusing on just the fundamentals; then add depth and the technicalities later, sharing information in digestible chunks. Show you are comfortable with the idea by encouraging feedback and preemptively explaining any obvious caveats you have already figured out. Actively listen to feedback and respond to concerns.
Take It Through the Process
Introducing a new idea is a process. Blurting out a new idea in the middle of a meeting could go quickly south. Explain how your idea is relevant to your organization and your audience. Make your idea appealing by telling a story -- about "what could be" if the new idea is adopted. Convince people your idea will work by showing them that you have done your homework. Explain any risks and how the idea will be successful. Ask for support to make the idea happen.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.
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