From the Miami Herald.
“Managers authentically want creativity and people authentically cherish it,” says Jennifer Mueller, an assistant professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “But if you want to accept a creative idea, then you’ll have to come to terms with the idea that you don’t know with any degree of certainty that it will work. People often reject creative ideas is because they want to diminish uncertainty.”
Mueller studied this phenomenon after continuously listening to frustrated product developers whose concepts had been overlooked. She in turn devised experiments that paired creative words such as “novel” and “inventive” with both a positive word, such as “heaven” or “love,” and then separately with a negative word, such as “vomit” or “rot.” She found her subjects — who beforehand readily agreed to appreciating creativity — more rapidly agreed with the negative associations than they did with the positive pairings.
“We think of things in terms of categories and we have associations with these categories,” says Mueller. “It’s like stereotyping. We can associate women with warmth but that doesn’t mean it’s true — creativity is the same. It makes people feel uncertain.”
Eliminate doubt in your initiatives by making sure your presentation answers the questions that will be on the minds of the decision-makers, says Tom Steenburgh, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. They’ll want to know: 1) Whether there is a burning need for your product or service. 2) How your idea will meet that need. 3) The reasons you’re the person to carry out the task. Start it all off, says Steenburgh, by asking your audience a question or presenting them with a puzzle.
“Grab their imagination,” he says. “It’s like when you go to the theater and the curtain goes up, you’re ready for anything. Your audience is there with you. Open up the world of possibilities.”
You’ll also want to include in your presentation some cold, hard numbers, says John Layzell, a small business consultant in South Florida. Consider calculating the cost, potential returns or even some sales projections, he says.
“If you have a creative person pitching to a logical person it’s almost as if they’re speaking a different language,” says Layzell. “You have to pitch so it makes sense to them.”