Does this sound familiar? You have a great idea that will revolutionize the world (well, at least your part of it). It uses the latest Web 2.5 paradigm, Cleanax API 7.6, and takes advantage of all the bells and whistles on the latest Pithium Excelon 2K9-7 processor. What's not to like in such a project? To your surprise, when you propose your idea, it gets rejected.
Yet, at the same time, some other, lesser talent comes up with a zany, harebrained idea that you feel is completely useless and stupid. Plus, it's so pre-Web 1.0, it's not funny. To your dismay, it is enthusiastically endorsed by management. And you're stuck with the implementation.
If this situation strikes a chord, rest assured, the problem is not with the zany idea, or your boss, it's with you! The ideas and projects that get implemented are not necessarily the best ones. The brightest and most talented are not always the ones that get promoted. In both cases, the one with the best packaging is the one that will garner attention.
Think of it this way: there is a reason companies spend so much money on packaging their products. All the evidence you need can be found in the aisles of cosmetic products in any drugstore or pharmacy. Take a look at the vast array of fancy packages for what, in fact, are very similar products. The explanation for this is simple: people have a tendency to buy what looks best, especially if they need to choose between very similar products.
Management is no different. In order to get your ideas heard, or to be next in line for a promotion, you need to think of the packaging not just the content. Yes, the UI is important. Here are seven things to think about the next time you need to present an idea to management, and you want to make sure that it is heard:
Show Your Expertise: This is often the first trap. When geeks think about expertise, they usually think in terms of technical expertiselanguages, programs, protocols, etc. However, for the most part, management is uninterested in your technical expertise. Managers and executives want to see that you understand the business, the strategy, and the direction of the company. If they see that you understand that and have taken into account business imperatives, they will be more inclined to listen to you.
Why? Because it will be clear that they do not need to educate you on what is important to help the company thrive.
Adapt Your Language: Speak in business terms, not in geek terms. Managers and
executives don't think in terms of XML, C#, SOAP, or other techno-speak. They understand ROI, time-to-market, and profit margins. And whether you like it or not, suit-speak has more value to the company than geek-speak. Speak the language that is important to management. Keep the bits and bytes for your colleagues.
Be Flexible: Your bright idea may not be exactly what management is looking for. Be prepared to modify your original plans if you feel that your idea can really be helpful. You've all heard the story of
Crave Feedback: If you cringe at the thought of receiving feedback, reframe your thinking. Feedback is not a tool to put you down or to humiliate you. It is designed to help you improve what you do. So if your idea or suggestion is not accepted by your superiors, instead of sulking and getting upset about it ask for feedback. Not just any feedback: request specific feedback on why the idea was rejected, and what needs to change in order for it to be accepted.