Why You Don’t Let The Boss Have Ideas

 A Critical Doer controls what’s theirs to control


Who has the best ideas…you or the Boss?  Did you fall for the binary thinking trap of picking one or the other?  If you’re a “card carrying” Critical Doer, your answer was probably a combination of the two and in that you’re right.

Here’s a truth of human nature…the best ideas we’ve ever heard of are our own.  Unfortunately that doesn’t make them the smartest, most executable, most practical, most effective, most cost efficient, or any other descriptor you can name.

The best ideas are forged through diversity of thought.  Given what we just said about our own ideas, where in the organization can origination and ownership of an idea have the greatest potential to limit diversity of thought?  Indeed, it rests with ideas that originate with the Boss.

Even if it’s not intended, many times ideas that originate with the Boss are interpreted as a “go do” and people dutifully march out to execute the idea without the same analytical rigor an idea generated at a lower level would receive.  Socrates once said “an unexamined life is not worth living” and a good Critical Doer corollary to that is “the unexamined idea is not worth doing.”

In healthy organizations, bosses communicate with their organizations in terms of vision and direction.  In other words, what the world needs to look like to achieve a desired end state.  The “how” or specific ideas to achieve that end state generally turn out better when generated from the people closest to where the work is accomplished.

To build a high performing organization, there has to be a healthy teamwork relationship between workers and bosses.  It is within your power to increase your boss’ effectiveness to evaluate ideas and drive the rigor that improves your ideas…this is the essence of objectivity.

If you fail to control what’s yours to control and let the Boss fill a creativity void, the likely outcome is an idea that doesn’t receive the objective analysis of a bottom up generated idea.  It may work…but likely not as well, or not as well as a competitor’s idea that was percolated through a healthy framework of innovators and decision makers.

Your challenge is to take Socrates’ challenge and give your professional life a brutally honest examination.  Are you sitting on a game changing idea that could represent a quantum leap forward or even an incremental improvement to gain an edge on the competition?  If so, you are not controlling what’s yours to control, and even worse you are forcing the Boss to fill the creativity void in a way that likely will not yield a solution with the necessary scrutiny and diversity of thought.  Put your ideas out, have thick enough skin to answer the challenges knowing your idea will only improve, and effectively engage the Boss to drive objectivity that’s tough to achieve when you own the idea.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!



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Updated: July 2, 2015 — 1:28 pm

1 Comment

  1. Regardless of whether I was the “boss” or the “subordinate” — one approach I have found very useful is as follows:

    Do my own homework. Do my own analysis of the “facts.”

    Then pull in other critical thinkers and charge them with a simple resposibility — “Convince me that I’m wrong.”

    I don’t really care about the times that my line or reasoning carried the day. What I cared about was when it didn’t!

    Such an approach demands open and honest debate void of emotional bias. It also demands a willingness to be humble enough to let someone else who is looking at the issue a little differently say — “Boss, you are wrong!”

    Done right — this can be a very powerful tool not only in solving problems, but also in forging a TEAM who understands they are value added partners — not just mindless workers.

    It is actually a very empowering approach!

    Don’t just dismiss it — give it a try and evaluate the results you get.

    On a one time shot — you will get a better result. Systemically applied, you will find it a game changer for your team.

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