How to Kill an Idea

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Overheard during a retail store remodeling:

Cashier to store manager: "Why don't we try [new idea]? When I worked at Caldor, we used to do that and it worked really well."

Store manager to cashier: "Well, Caldor went out of business. So I guess that idea didn't work too well now, did it?"

What a convenient excuse for killing a new idea.

The manager didn't care that the idea may have had nothing to do with Caldor's going out of business or that Caldor had been in business successfully for more than 40 years before going bankrupt. It sounds like this manager suffers from one of the following syndromes:

  • "It wasn't invented here!"
  • "This is the way we've always done it here!"
  • "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

How do you respond when someone suggests a new idea? Are you open to it? Or do you suffer from one of those syndromes and kill a new idea the moment it's suggested?

Not every idea suggested is a "good" one, but the manager should create an environment where ideas are welcomed and valued.

What are the odds that the cashier will ever suggest another idea to that store manager? Pretty slim. That's not how to build continuous improvement or employee engagement in any organization.

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