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March 14, 2016 Article 2 min read
Innovation is a key differentiator, but how do leaders advance creative and innovative ideas in the face of internal resistance to change? These six tactics can help improve acceptance, even among those most tightly holding onto the status quo.

Young deer look out of place in a metropolitan shopping area 

We know that innovation is a key differentiator in achieving revenue growth, and disruptive and game-changing ideas continue to dominate headlines. (Uber is an excellent example.) But what we don’t often read is how leaders advance creative or innovative ideas in the face of internal resistance to change.

Communicating your ideas using familiar key words or mantras can be helpful in creating buy-in so that suggestions seem more doable and less “foreign.”

Here are a few practical suggestions for advancing creative ideas in a way that has a greater likelihood of being accepted and implemented.

  • Amplify the voice of the customer.
    What’s the most important circumstance facing a business? Its customers’ challenges. Emphasizing how suggestions meet existing and emerging customer needs is a great way to entice even the most change-resistant team member to consider a new way of thinking.
  • Celebrate incremental innovation.
    As leaders, we tend to celebrate the big ideas. However, smaller innovations or tweaks to existing products and services can contribute significantly to improving revenue, quality, and customer satisfaction. Encourage ideas throughout the organization, and reward those who submit them. A simple, “Thank you for your great idea” goes a long way in creating a culture of innovation and making staff feel heard.
  • Link your idea to organization-wide initiatives.
    For example, if growth is a key initiative, how might your idea support growth? It’s critical that new ideas align with the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Translate your idea into your organization's language.
    Each organization has its own key words and acronyms embedded into its culture and communication. Communicating your ideas using familiar key words or mantras can be helpful in creating buy-in so that suggestions seem more doable and less “foreign” to the organization.
  • Frame ideas as "pilot studies".
    A pilot program is often much more acceptable to organizations than a full-fledged initiative rollout. It’s hard to argue with, “I’d like to try X and see what we learn.” If the idea doesn’t work out, then little is lost. But it may trigger another idea that will work — and pay dividends — later on.
  • Don't go it alone.
    Float your ideas with others in positions of power to enlist support and create momentum and sponsorship. Plus, like Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

In today’s quick-paced business environment, cultures that adapt to changing marketplace conditions develop a built-in competitive advantage. So give these tactics a try. Combined, they’re a great way to guide your organization toward future success.