A Money Making Idea Flounders

Today I'm going relate to you the life story of an idea in corporate America. Yes, I'm go to generalize liberally, but my experience tells me that others working in large companies will be able to relate to what I've written. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The story is presented as a blend of dialog and thoughts. And thus begins the tale…

Day 1 – An Idea is Born

Me: Hmmm… I have an idea. I think this idea could make a lot of money with little effort. I should find someone open-minded to pick apart my idea before I talk to someone important.

Day 23 – The Sanity Check

Open-Minded Person: “That's not a bad idea. I think you may run up against some resistance from this group for this reason. Worth a shot, so go for it.”

Me: “Great! Thanks for the input. I'll think of how to counter those concerns should they come up.” Now I just need the perfect opportunity to present my idea.

Day 37 – The Perfect Opportunity

Important Person: “And in closing, I'd like to open up the floor to anyone here for IDEAS or suggestions.”

Me: Ooooh, there's the magic word. “Ahem, I have this idea that will take very little time and effort, but could generate a lot of money for us.”

Important Person: “We already considered that idea and think that this other approach is better. Our analysis reveals that there's more money to be had elsewhere.”

Me: Wow. What kind of analysis could they have done? I'm impressed. So much for my idea.

Day 372 – A Great Idea

Important Person: “Everyone I'd like to let you know that we're going to try this new idea to bring in some extra money to our group. In a week or so you should see this new idea in action.”

Me: Hey, wait a minute! That's the same idea I mentioned 335 days ago that apparently didn't hold up against some other approach. Well at least the idea is being implemented now. My whole group should benefit which was always the primary goal.

Day 381 – Idea Launches

Me: A quick check of the implementation reveals that it is crap (technical term). No thought seems to have been given to maximizing the idea's effectiveness. It's like it was an afterthought. I need to step in here and help. I need another perfect opportunity.

Day 540 – No Perfect Opportunity

Me: The idea seems to have failed miserably. Largely due to the implementation, in my mind. Sadly, I can't find the right forum to re-present the idea and make a case for another round of testing. Oh well. Back to work.

Day 780 – Twinkle in the Eye

Me: Some big changes happening. I think I may be able to create the perfect opportunity to present my idea.

Day 811 – Idea Presented

Me: At the end of a random meeting I toss out a comment that alludes to my idea to see if there's any interest. Yes! Interest is aroused. I'm asked for more information. Luckily I have a PowerPoint deck explaining the idea.

Day 838 – Details of the Idea

Really Important Person: “So tell me more about this idea.”

Me: “Well if we just do this and test a couple of things we could generate this much money. Risk is minimal and effort is negligible (literally 30 minutes of work). Just give me the go ahead.”

Really Important Person: “Sounds good to me.”

Me: Yay!

Really Important Person: “Just check in with these other important people first.”

Me: No! Once again stuck in the kitchen with too many cooks. Begging and pleading to just do it gets me nowhere.

Day 845 – Idea Update

Really Important Person: “So when do you think you'll be able to implement that idea?”

Me: “I'm waiting for approval from the other important people.”

Day 846 – Details of the Idea (Again)

Another Important Person: “Can you explain to me the details of your idea?”

Me: Sure. I've done so 100 times now, what's another round? So I explain the idea.

Another Important Person: “Sounds OK to me. Have you considered this and that?”

Me: “Yes.” After 846 days, I've had plenty of time to consider this and that.

Another Important Person: “OK. I'll check in with one more important person.”

Me: Of course.

Day 853: My Head Hurts

Me: 2.3 years later and I'm still waiting. Even after getting approval a couple of weeks ago for 30 minutes of work, I'm still in a holding pattern waiting for approval of the approval.

Closing Thoughts

Am I the only one with an idea? Hardly. I hear a lot of them all the time in conversations I have. Most ideas, including mine, will flop. But if the risk is low and the potential return is high, isn't it worth trying them out? Is my experience unique? Not at all. It happens all the time and in many companies. Are there companies that don't have this problem? I think there are probably many of them. Sadly I've only heard of a handful.

All of this might not matter if companies continued to keep their stockholders happy and their employees flush with bonuses and pay raises due to continued revenue growth, but that's just not what happens. Instead, you get the kind of growth shown below. How depressing. And no I can't tell you which companies are depicted, but if you oogle the chart long enough, you'll be able to digest the information quite readily.

Companies and Ideas

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