How to Present Your Idea to Top Management
I saw a lot of innovative people present ideas in a very original way:
- by playing a movie,
- by doing a dance,
- by making a painting,
- by writing one huge post-it,
- by making a newspaper, and
- even by doing a flash mob.
Of course the management in your company asked you to be innovative and expect you to break patterns. That’s what they have asked you to do. But when you present your idea to them it is wise to keep in mind that they are still as conservative as ever. Your senior management might praise you for your creativity. But, will they buy the idea and give you the resources to develop it after seeing a flash mob? I have my doubts. Although they might have asked you to bring them new ideas. Present them something better: tangible potential for growth!
In the boardroom your idea will be evaluated from at least four perspectives:
- The Customer: will they like it?
- The Business model: will it be profitable for us?
- The Technology: can we produce it?
- The Risk: what if it’s a failure? What if it’s huge success?
These questions must all be answered, as far as possible, during the first ideation phase. A common way, in management practice to present new initiatives is drafting a business case. And for innovative concepts I suggest to make a variant. One which complies with all uncertainties in the earliest phase of the innovation pipeline: a mini new business case. This is a clear, strategic, commercial, professional and financial plan for new initiatives. At this early stage of the innovation process it is more of a ‘preview’ of the full business case. A handy format for a mini new business case, you can download here.
A good mini new business case consists of seven slides:
1. The customer friction (1 slide).
- The customer situation
- The customer need
- The customer friction (problem/challenge)
2. Our new product concept (1 slide).
- The customer target group (qualitative and quantitative)
- The marketing mix of the new product, service or business model
- New for…. (the world, the market, our company)
3. This makes the concept unique (1 slide).
- Buying arguments for the customer
- Current solutions and competitors
- Our positioning
4. It will be feasible (1 slide).
- We are able to develop it
- We are able to produce it
- The development process
5. What’s in it for us (1 slide).
- The number of customers (in year three)
- The estimated turnover (in year three)
- The estimated profits (in year three)
6. Why now? (1 slide).
- Why develop it now
- If we don’t do it, then….
7. Decision (1 slide).
- Why further
- The follow-up team, process and planning.
An original way of presenting your idea gets you attention. By making a mini new business case you strengthen the persuasiveness of your proposals and gets you a “Yes”.
Remember: “nobody buys innovation from a clown.”
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Gijs van Wulfen helps organizations to structure the chaotic start of innovation as author, speaker and facilitator. He is the founder of the FORTH innovation method and author of the innovation bestseller The Innovation Expedition. He was chosen by LinkedIn as one of their first 150 Influencers.
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