What do Star Wars, Seinfeld, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Harry Potter all have in common? Yes, they were all groundbreaking successes, revolutionizing their respective industries. But there is an answer more relevant to our topic today: all 4 of these projects were originally passed on by their respective studio executives or publishing managers.
Did you know that Nichia almost stopped the project that led to the invention of LED lighting? Or that Xerox almost cancelled the laser printer?
The annals of innovation are full of projects that were originally turned down by a manager, but went on to be world-changing.
Why do we pass on amazing ideas?
Great ideas possess certain qualities that set them apart from the ordinary. They challenge the status quo, disrupt conventional thinking, and bring forth fresh perspectives. When embraced, these ideas have the potential to revolutionize industries, solve complex problems, and captivate audiences.
But we often pass up these ideas because of a fear of failure that is at the core of our risk aversion. As executives, we feel the weight of responsibility and hesitate to deviate from the tried-and-true. It is this very fear that leads to missed opportunities and stagnant growth. By clinging to well-tested formulas, we risk falling behind our more daring and innovative competitors.
What can you do?
I know that for every incredible idea that I gave above as an example, there were countless innovative ideas that failed and innumerable rejected projects that never would have been successful. But truly innovative organizations create a culture that embraces new ideas and takes calculated risks in order to stay ahead of the curve.
I would offer 2 suggestions. First, foster an environment that encourages the creation and backing of bold ideas. Regular meetings are often very purpose driven and it is hard not to just shoot down new ideas because of time constraints. Create meetings or communication channels that are just for discussing new ideas, maybe as a once-a-month meeting or even something as simple as a slack channel.
Secondly, create a system to evaluate new original ideas that come from those meetings or communication channels. In Originals, Adam Grant presents a ton of research that managers are often not then best people to evaluate new ideas because they are in a position that requires them to evaluate risk at a higher level. Instead, the most accurate evaluators of new projects are actually peers of the innovators. They don’t have the same risk-aversion as the managers, and they also don’t have the false positive inclinations of the person who came up with the idea. So create a system that allows peers to judge new ideas that members of your team generate.
I hope these ideas help and your organization starts implementing bold, creative new ideas soon!
If you want to hire bold, create leaders for your organization, please reach out to me at NShah@ManevaGroup.com. We will schedule a no-cost, no obligation 15-minute consultation to discuss how to find and hire top 1% talent.
Maneva Group is a woman and minority owned national Executive Search firm focusing on the social sector with expertise in completely managing the recruiting process, curating diverse and exceptionally qualified candidate pools, and advising C-suite executives and board members through crucial hiring decisions.