Proposing novel ideas at your company

You have an idea for an improvement. How to explain it to others?

Say you have an idea that will only work if it’s adopted by others, for example using a new tool for sharing documents or making meetings more efficient.

When pitching any “big” new idea, don’t write a long proposal and share it with the whole company. I found it’s often easier to start small, maybe pitch the idea to teammates over lunch to get feedback, then bring it up in your team meeting and trial the idea within your team first. If that idea worked and your team sees benefits, it’s going to be much easier for the idea to be adopted by other teams.

What also works quite well is bring up the idea at the time it’s relevant. As an example of promoting the usage of threads on Slack: Whenever people reply directly in a channel and don’t use threads, start a thread and politely explain why, giving all the context. There are too many things for people to keep track of every day, not everyone will remember everything that was discussed in a team meeting two weeks ago.

Of course, if an idea was tried but didn’t work as you expected, learn from the feedback and improve it. If you learned new information due to which it’s clear the idea won’t work, stop pursuing it. That’s totally OK, it will be a valuable learning experience. Be bold, move fast and don’t be afraid to fail.

Software Engineer based in London

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