Enemy 1. Top-Management: They call for ideas but fail to remove the other lethal, built-in barriers in the organization.
Enemy 2: Certain Middle-Management People: They regularly and skillfully ambush proposed ideas that threaten either the status quo or personal goals.
Enemy 3: Idea People Themselves: These are the brilliant professional-level people who generate great ideas but don’t have a clue as to how to move their ideas up the organization to acceptance and use.
The This-Job-Oriented managers: five to ten years from retirement, their career jobs seem stable, but promotion prospects are zilch. New ideas are terrifying. They mean change. Change means job jeopardy. Their standard tactic: defend the status quo: “We’ve tried that before. It won’t work here. Not possible. Competition got killed with that idea . . .” They fear what Joseph Schumpeter, the famous economist, called “creative destruction.” These people, once shining lights, are now dangerous.
The Next-Job Oriented Managers: Their agenda is to get promoted. Period. Skilled sycophants, these people appear open, interested, cooperative, giving lip service to progress and innovation. “Great idea, yes sireee!” But they actually are risk averse. If an idea has the slightest chance of failure, they will fake interest and cooperation but quietly avoid any actual association. Then, if the idea seems a sure winner, they will make a last minute dash for the bandwagon. Tricky.
Idea People Themselves: These brilliant people often are their own worst enemies. Here’s the scenario. They sincerely believe the benefits of their ideas are, or should be, clearly self evident to all except morons. To them Ralph Waldo Emerson’s mousetrap myth is gospel: Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. Therefore the notion that ideas need to be promoted or sold is deemed not necessary. Worse, it is anathema. To them the idea of them selling anything is not just demeaning, it’s downright lowbrow — Willy Loman stuff. Even worse, most of these highly creative people haven’t a clue about the selling process in the first place. Thus thousands of excellent ideas are stillborn.