How to convince your boss that your ideas are any good

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” – Howard Aiken

So now what?

You get it: most companies are not in the business of trying something new, they’re in the business of making money.

Even though you’ve got good ideas, they’re new and that means they’re risky, which makes them scary from a business perspective. Your boss is going to have a hard time listening to the idea, let alone giving you the go-ahead with it.

You’ll have to be creative in convincing anyone that the ideas you have for the business are any good. Here’s where to start.

  1. Find where your ideas align. If you don’t know where your boss wants the business to go, ask him/her. Then find ways to have your ideas align with that direction. It’s going to take some creative engineering, but remember that, at this point, it’s all in the presentation.
  2. Forget about convincing anyone. Instead, focus on sharing the idea as more of a curiosity. Asking your boss: &8220;How do you see this idea playing out…” No matter the response they give, prod further by asking why they feel that way. By approaching the idea out of curiosity – and seeking insights – you’ll expose glaring holes in your ideas and also get your boss to almost convince themselves that the idea is worth pursuing.
  3. Tell it as a story. Everyone loves a good story, and presenting your ideas in a story format can help capture the attention of your undoubtedly busy boss. Get them bought-in before you reach the crux of the story and you’re better off. How do you tell a good story around a business idea? Start with the problems your boss (and their bosses) might feel, explore the pains of those problems, then describe how your idea helps alleviate them in a creative way.
  4. Run it like a science fair. In a school science fair you have a lot of students doing small experiments and then presenting their findings. There’s no heavy lifting involved, just simple experiments done with whatever resources were available. Do the same thing for your ideas: run small experiments with them in order to gather data which you can then present to your boss. (This not only gives him/her data to make a decision on your idea, but also shows that you’re willing to take the initiative to get something moving.)
  5. Do it anyway. If you don’t need a lot of resources to get the idea going, go forward full-force. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for approval. Besides: if the idea is a success, everyone wins.