I think many of us have found ourselves on the receiving end of the dreaded “well that’s the way we’ve always done it” when talking to a supervisor, colleague, or someone in an upper administrative position. Unless your are the CEO or President of your organization (if so Hi! How are you?) , it is most likely that you have been in this situation.
Some of the times, what follows that dreaded statement after pleading to your supervisor your great idea, is the statement/question “but what if it doesn’t work”. Shot down twice, ouch!
…. but what if it does?
Now if you’re like me, you’re impatient and want what you know will work to be implemented now. Unfortunately, not everyone is open to our impatience and we need to pump the brakes.. Knowing that an idea would work in an organization that is resistant to change is like trying to climb Long’s Peak on your first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park as a novice hiker. You need to be patient, learn, and then take that climb.
You know in your gut that you can do it, but here is a list of some of the things that I have tried to make my organization go from”but what if it doesn’t work”, “to what if it does”. (caveat: I have been with my organization for 5 years and I still encounter some resistance, but I’m not going to stop trying)
Know your stuff. This should be easy, after all this is your bread and butter.. this is your area to which you have spent countless hours reading and writing and bench marking.
Show, don’t tell. Telling people is the worst - instead… SHOW them. I think this is one of the best methods to help your dept/organization to adopt something new. We wanted to implement a new piece of software to help our residence life staff, so what did I/we the committee do? We showed our department what this software could actually do. And while you’re showing them, don’t forget to explain the WHY.
Use Data-Informed decision-making skills (I swear this is a new buzz phrase) If you had the time to do some bench-marking across similar organizations, do a needs assessment, evaluate programs that may not work - showing quantifiable data will help you to assuage the resistance to a new idea.
Build your army of allies. Working and sharing your idea with your like-minded colleagues is a great way for them to have your back on an idea, particularly if you are in meetings with them where decisions are made.
If your idea is just too much for your organization to handle - channel that energy into some place else. What do I mean by this? In my experience, some other avenue for your idea may help you flush your ideas out more. For example, I know there are many gaps where my knowledge and talent can be filled, so I took that drive and went back to school to get a certificate in Instructional Systems Technology. I am learning so much and that will help me bring my ideas and knowledge to a new level. Hence this website/blog :)
All in all, you got this. This is your great idea/new procedure/area where you will shine and do not ever forget that. Remember, you may not win the battle in your first, second or even fifth try, but resilience and passion will win out in the end. And maybe one day you too will land at the top of Long’s Peak.