#299 from Innovative Leader Volume 6, Number 9          September 1997

FORUM—from our readers

Are You Really Interested in the Company’s Future?

I’ve been with my company for a bit more than two years.  I pride myself in being creative.  However, whenever I have an idea that strays too far from the “plan,” my boss quickly dismisses it as “not worth pursuing.”  The problem is, our group’s “plan” is his plan.  He devised it, and believes there can be no modifications; certainly no significant changes.  Therefore, he views any opinion for an improvement as being an opinion against him. 

He won’t spend any time discussing these non-standard ideas.  He’d definitely be upset if I presented the ideas to his supervisor. 

The old-timers in my department have all given up their creativity.  They let the boss take all responsibilities for program design.  They just “do their job” in following his plan.  It’s not worth it to disrupt his day and be the brunt of his wrath—and get the predictable “no” answer.

Now, these ideas I have, while they deviate from the plan, are ideas that improve the way we would reach our goals—the same goals as in the plan.  When I present the ideas to others in the department, they agree that the ideas, if implemented, would improve our productivity.  Sometimes, my ideas are the same that my colleagues previously thought of, but didn’t pursue.  My latest idea had to do with a faster way to package a product, with the additional bonus of saving money.

My boss, it’s quite clear, has little interest in helping our company innovate.  He has little interest in the company’s future.  I don’t know if his attitude stems from laziness, not wanting to disrupt the status quo, or from a super-inflated ego that tells him that his ideas are the best ones.

I try to be as non-confrontational as possible when I tell him about an idea.  When he realizes that it isn’t in his plan, he stops discussion.  I’ve even tried to get together with several colleagues, who like my idea, to approach him.  They know that the boss will be even angrier when a bunch of us stick together—in his mind—against him.  So that has not worked.

One of our executives subscribes to Innovative Leader.  If she’s interested in the company’s future, she had better do something about our department.  That’s why I’ve written this. I’m also guessing that there are many other bosses standing in the way of their organization’s ability to innovate.  How can a company, that stresses the need to be competitive, afford these people?

What I’m doing now is looking for a position with another company.  There’s no way I can develop my skills here.  I need to be creative.  Just having ideas isn’t enough to satisfy me.  They have to be pursued, or rejected for reasons that I can understand.

Anonymous

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