How to Get Your Proposals Adopted
When we consider whether or not to advocate for our own idea or for a colleague's, our support and its intensity is predicated upon technical merits. However, beyond this, support also is typically influenced by a host of political considerations which can substantially influence its reception by others. These can include:
our own relative status within the organization (i.e. how much "pull" we have),our relationship with our colleague (e.g. do we want to see them succeed? do we like them? would they do the same for us?),our confidence in them, their reputation, credibility and status within the organization, etc...the professional risk involved in providing our support.
For these reasons, a new idea will progress within an organization only if it has a strong and compelling technical basis combined with political support from a strong willed, highly persuasive and respected champion and/or coalition.
So, if we examine this dynamic in the context of corporate open innovation, one shouldn't at all be surprised to learn that unsolicited external submissions face virtually zero chance of being adopted. Why? Unsolicited external submissions almost always lack an internal champion due to the many unknowns associated with the technology and its provider. Unless it addresses a specific, current and pressing corporate need, is extremely technically compelling (compared with known alternatives)...and has passionate and influential internal advocates, the submission is almost certainly going to be rejected for one reason or other. By company's own estimates, this currently occurs over 96% of the time. My guess is that the figure is probably closer to 100%.
Accepting this, then realistically speaking the external leads with the greatest success probabilities should be those commissioned and prospected by the company itself. This is because it has the most intimate knowledge of its own needs, internal customers and their requirements. These leads are also more likely to acquire an internal advocate (i.e. the scouting resource and or the folks who commissioned the resource) as these individuals' performance is often tied to their ability to successfully transfer external opportunities into the organization. In other words, they have a vested interest in transferring the solution to an internal customer.
Even so, I regularly hear from my corporate R&D contacts that despite their identifying leads that address their internal customers' expressed wants/needs, they frequently struggle to secure adoption. This is understandably frustrating for them. This causes me to wonder whether this could be attributed to "soft" factors unrelated to the leads' technical merit.
Next week, we will continue discussion on this topic, including some strategies to help overcome this extremely common and persistent challenge.
What are your thoughts on this topic?