New Ideas, but you keep getting NO!

Did it happen to you, that great idea you shared was received with a lot of criticism? Well you are not the only one. The single biggest obstacle at the start of any great idea in one word is: NO. I've had a lot of no's in my careers and there are lessons to learn. Lets look at some tips on how to get our great ideas, that we know will work... and get that YES!

Rejection and no's have happened to most of the great innovations and innovators in history, s these ten examples show:

1. "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." Western Union internal memo dated 1876.

2. "I do not believe the introduction of motor-cars will ever affect the riding of horses" Mr. Scott-Montague, MP, in the United Kingdom in 1903.

3. "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" David Sarnoff's Associates rejecting a proposal for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

4. "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" H.M. Warner (Warner Brothers) before rejecting a proposal for movies with sound in 1927.

5. "This is typical Berlin hot air. The product is worthless." Letter sent by Heinrich Dreser, head of Bayer's Pharmacological Institute, rejecting Felix Hoffmann's invention of aspirin. At that point, Bayer was standing by its ‘star’ painkiller diacetylmorphine. This alternative drug reportedly made factory workers feel animated and ‘heroic’, which is why Bayer decided to aptly name it ‘heroin’. Later on, due to its ‘funny’ side effects it was decided to take heroin off the market. Bayer's chairman eventually intervened to overrule Dreser's decision and accept aspirin as Bayer's main painkiller. More than 10 billion tablets of aspirin are swallowed annually.

6. "Who the hell wants to copy a document on plain paper???!!!" Rejection letter in 1940 to Chester Carlson, inventor of the XEROX machine. In fact, over 20 companies rejected his "useless" idea between 1939 and 1944. Even the National Inventors Council dismissed it. Today, the Rank Xerox Corporation has an annual revenue in the range of one billion dollars.

7. "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." A Yale university professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express.

8. "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olsen (President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp) in 1977.

9. "You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." Rejection letter to Arthur Jones, who invented the Nautilus Fitness Machine.

10. "So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.' Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

Why do most people reject new ideas? Quite simple! It's the newness. A real new idea challenges the status quo: the way it has always been done. This makes us worry and uncertain. A lot of people, especially those working in organisation who want to innovate, embrace creativity, they cannot handle uncertainty very well.

Getting support for your innovative ideas, concepts, prototypes and business models is essential. Otherwise nothing happens. So be prepared for 'the firing squad' every innovator will meet on his/her way. In my early days in big corporate cultures I felt the resistance of others as a personal attack on my attempt to move the company really forward. I got too excited, too emotional, too upset and at the end of the day I was very disappointed in my company, my colleagues and myself. Then, when rationality came back, I stood up again and made a second attempt.

Innovation does not stop at the first 'No'. That's the moment it really starts!

As innovator you're probably working in a pretty conservative organization. That's why your position was created in the first place. Of course they'll say 'no' to your innovation. What would you do if someone came up to you out of the blue, saying you have to do the things you do totally differently in the future? Or do totally different things. Innovation is always provocative by definition. I like to quote Einstein on this.

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it. [A. Einstein]

So when others say 'no' to innovation, don't take it personal. It is quite normal. I was confronted with a lot of "no's" all the way through the stage-gate innovation process: from ideation to implementation. Once I got used to all the resistance to change and innovation and I knew I could expect it, I got much better in transforming the 'no's' into a yes. I like to share with you five of my personal insights on how to prevent potential no's to your innovative initiatives.

1. Most people say yes to innovation only if doing nothing is a bigger risk. So be emphatic and put yourself in your boss's or CEO's shoes if there is a real need for innovation. As Innovator in a larger organization you really need the patience of a hunter to wait for a shot that you're sure you can make.

2. You can invent on your own, but in an organization you can never innovate alone. A new initiative news a lot of fathers and mothers to survive a corporate culture. You need R&D engineers, production managers, IT staff, financial controllers, marketers, service people and salesmen to develop the product, produce it, get it on the market and service it. Therefore make innovation a real team effort from start to finish lead by a passionate innovation champion.

3. Think outside the box and be sure to present your idea inside the box otherwise nothing will happen. As most of your superiors don't want to run any risk, your chances to convince them rise when you present an innovative initiative as the next logical step to take. And not as the most revolutionary disruptive break-through to launch.

4. As innovator you should bring back new business not new ideas. Innovation for most people is a way to get somewhere. Bring back a mini new business case: What will it bring us? At what levels of turnover and profit margin? For what target group? Why would customers buy it?

5. The voice of the customer is your best support for a new concept. Connect customers as early as possible to your innovation project. Let them test concept statements of your new product or service and (in a later stage) prototypes. Use their enthusiast responses to convince the Naysayers in your organization to prioritize your innovation project.

Elite wish you all the success in your journey to find the YES you need and not the NO! Elite always say YES to what our clients needs are and deliver the tailored service we promise to them.

Remember. Real innovators never give up!

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