I was at a networking group a few weeks ago and the topic switched to idea generation and brainstorming – particularly in the corporate environment. The facilitator of the group talked about the importance and value of mentioning ideas in the workplace. She went on to say if you mention or suggest an idea that management decides to implement, then you need to own it. When she said, “own it,” she meant you need to work on it and if necessary, direct others to see it defined, designed, tested and eventually implemented.
Au contraire I say! I certainly don’t agree with her assessment of owning the idea. I’ve been on the other side a number of times in the corporate environment and often having to put in extra time to implement your idea can be challenging – especially with your other tasks. Let me explain.
What if you only have a few employees who are idea generators – so every idea they think of, they’ll need to own? If so, will they always be anxious to come up with an idea? Will they always be willing to risk it knowing that they will own the idea from start to finish? At some point, will the potential work associated with an idea deter an idea generator from continuing to explore possible improvements? Especially in an environment that does not always value idea generation.
If someone is good at idea generation, then it's important that you leverage that skill set AMAP. I'm not saying idea generators cannot work on some of their ideas or have a consultant role in the process, but they should not feel compelled to own all their ideas from start to finish. That skill set needs to be cultivated and used as much as you can to improve the businesses' bottom line.
I've worked with some very creative people in corporate America who have been burned by having to own most if not all their ideas that were accepted and implemented. Often, these individuals have other responsibilities so their idea work adds to an already busy schedule. They may or may not be compensated for this extra effort. How many employees will put themselves in that position when they realize the extra work and not much of a financial reward (if any)?
Will it only be the masochistic workers who will continue this madness of owing their idea from start to finish?
What do you think? What would be your approach if you had many ideas and suggestions to share with your company?