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Meeting Management’s Greatest Challenges

How You Overcome That Great Fear

PASS iStock_000001252419Medium“Fear is the expectation of evil.” I came across and was struck by that definition recently. It came strongly to mind this week when I read a research report about CEOs’ greatest fears. Apparently, for a whopping 64%, the single biggest fear is of disruptive ideas and the impact they might have on their business.   

Thus, according to that definition of fear, business leaders see new ideas as evil. You have to find that incredibly ironic if, like me, you believe:

  • Business exists for the purpose of meeting needs;
  • The more the business meets those needs the better the business will do;
  • Business leaders are responsible for shaping the way the organisation meets those needs.

With that attitude, you might even say that CEOs could be the biggest barriers to change in their organisations.  

If nothing else, that possibility should give you pause to think. As defence you may claim that there is a very big difference between “new ideas” and “disruptive ideas.” Maybe so, but where do you draw the line? How do you distinguish one from the other? More importantly, how do you know that you are not rejecting good ideas that could achieve wonders for your business?

This last question is particularly pertinent if you have innovation is a key strategy. History is littered with examples of good ideas that have been rejected. You don’t have to look any further than my two favourite examples – the photocopier and the personal computer. Both were product ideas that were initially rejected by IBM, at the time the world’s largest company, and went on to become massive global companies (Xerox and Microsoft) that competed with and even outperformed IBM.


To avoid joining that hall of shame, you need to ensure that you create an environment where new ideas are encouraged and the filters, mindsets and prejudices that might inhibit their development are minimised or eliminated. Naturally this begins with your people. After all, they are the source of all new ideas.

So the challenge is to engage all your people so that they are willing to put forward their ideas. Those are actually two different things and you need to see them as such and consider them separately.

Firstly, engaging your people does not have to be as daunting as “employee engagement” so often seems. Rather, it simply entails ensuring that they:-

  • Find their work fulfilling;
  • Understand the need to ensure a great customer experience;
  • Understand and commit to playing their part in the strategy to deliver a great customer experience;
  • Share in the rewards of achieving all the above.  

All of these objectives are fully addressed by the ‘Every Individual Matters’ model. Encouraging your people to contribute their ideas, however, moves beyond this and conventional innovation schemes. It necessitates entirely new levels of confidence, commitment and trust. This is also not as daunting as it may seem and simply requires:-

  • Good, open communication;
  • A consistent framework for evaluating new ideas;
  • The promise of a personal stake in the successful outcomes of any ideas mooted.  

The last point is vital.  Most “disruptive” ideas – like the examples rejected by IBM – were first mooted internally. Their originators, however, had the conviction, determination and drive to pursue them and see them through to success, with the ultimate financial rewards that followed. We call that entrepreneurial spirit, but there is no reason why it has to occur outside the organisation. Supporting their development and offering the originator a royalty in return, creates the best of both worlds. It taps into the creative capabilities of your most important assets whilst simultaneously ensuring that results remain “in-house.” That, surely, is the ultimate win-win.


Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model can help you create an organisational culture that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.


Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”


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