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7 ways to prevent your ideas from getting killed

Great article by 

A lot of my business ideas got killed in my 30-year-career. In practice, I have learned the hard way that if your new idea doesn’t fit your organisation, it will be rejected and nothing will materialize in the end. That’s why I like to help you with 7 ways to prevent your ideas from getting killed.

Ideas are stopped by a lot of “NO’s”

The single biggest obstacle at the start of innovation is one single word: NO. 

If your idea is not new,  it’s not innovation, it will get a lot of opposition. 


As startup partners and financers will confront you with a lot of doubts. As a corporate innovator it will be your colleagues and managers giving comments like:

  • No, we have always done it this way…
  • No, our customers won’t like that!
  • No, we don’t have time for this…
  • No, it’s not possible…
  • No, it’s too expensive!
  • No, let’s be realistic…
  • No, that’s not logical…
  • No, we need to do more research…
  • No, there’s no budget…
  • No, top management won’t agree…
  • No, the market is not ready yet…
  • No, it might work in other places but not here…
  • No, that’s way too risky…
  • No, it doesn’t fit our strategy…
  • No, that’s for the future…

Be prepared to be met by all these idea-killers along the way. It might even spin you out of your company, as there is strong evidence that many of the new ideas implemented in new ventures are generated while the employee was working for a parent firm in the same industry:

 71% of all startups replicated or modified an idea encountered in previous jobs.

People and companies are risk-averse

The origin of all the opposition you encounter is that in essence most people and companies avoid risks. Moving beyond what they normally do makes them uncertain. In my lectures when I ask, “Who of you wants to be an innovator?” most hands go up in the air. When I follow up with, “Who of you wants to run a personal risk?” a lot of those hands go back down. For corporate innovators it’s very frustrating when you’ve been assigned to come up with great new ideas only to see nothing materialize because the same managers who gave you your assignment say ‘no’ to every idea, business case or prototype you present. First of all, it’s a pity for all the work you and your team have put into it. And secondly, your organization is still lacking innovative solutions. However, your chances of surviving the innovation maze will rise if your idea meets the company’s strategy and innovation criteria.

7 Ways to check if your organisation is prepared to adopt your idea and make it reality

Helmut Panke, the ex-CEO of the BMW Group, said, 

“My biggest challenge is saying ‘no’ to projects that are exciting, but don’t fit BMW’s strategy.” 

He hits the nail on its head. Your idea might be really exciting, but if it does not fit your company it will be killed sooner or later, most often early on at the front end. That’s why it’s wise to check this is as early as possible in the innovation process.

In my view there are 7 ways you to check if your idea fits your organization, preventing your idea from getting killed. Just ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Has your idea the potential to attain revenue -, cost saving – or profit targets for your organisation? If not, rethink your business model.
  2. Does your idea fit the processes of your company? If not, would your organisation be open to partner, or co-create them with others?
  3. Does your idea fit the people of your company? If not, would your organisation be open hiring new people with different skill sets or operate it with others?
  4. Does your idea fit the strategy of your company? If not, how can you tweak your idea to make it inclusive?
  5. Does your idea fit the investment budgets of your organisation? If not, how can you lower the investments and/or find external financers to join in?
  6. Does your idea fit the customers of your organization? If not, how can you get access to these new target groups? Can you co-market the idea?
  7. Does your idea fit the present brand(s) of your organization? If not, can you introduce a new brand or co-brand the idea?

Well, if you have ticked six or seven boxes you’ve got a match. You can proceed with the next activity and work out the details later in the new business case. If you have ticked three to five boxes the match with your organisation is doubtful at the very least. Try to pivot your idea and business model to come up with a great idea which matches your organisation better. Or you might spin out your idea as a separate startup. If you have ticked two or even fewer boxes, there is no match at all with your organisation and spinning out your idea and the intellectual property rights could be a good option.

So check first if your idea fits the goals of your managers and your organisation, if you want to prevent your idea to be rejected. I wish you lots of success on your innovation journeys.

Do you want to improver your innovation skills and results? Join our next training in the FORTH innovation methodology Oct 29 – Nov 3, 2017. Check it out at: http://ift.tt/2iIKzOc


  • “Performance Driver: Helmut Panke”, Businessweek, June 7, 2004, p. 40.
  • Developing New Ideas: Spin-outs, Spinoffs or Internal Divisions, Radoslawa Nikolowa, May 2011, working paper, p 2.

Posted on May 20, 2017

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