Not A New Idea – Sorry!


Today’s guest post is written by Andrew Wood

How often has that been given as a reason for not using an idea when the suggestor puts it forward? Most readers will say that it is a frequent occurrence. This short tale illustrates how futile that reasoning is and how we can really lose the benefits of good ideas by giving this reason.

“Even if the idea had been re-introduced then many people would be given no credit for bringing it to the attention of their manager.”

The East India Company’s, Admiral of the Fleet, James Lancaster was a very good sailor and an even better navigator. In 1601 he left on the second of his major sea Journeys to find the source of a plentiful supply of Nutmeg, a very valuable commodity back in those times. He found out that by giving his sailors three teaspoons of lemon juice a day he could prevent them getting scurvy on long sea journeys. Details of the sea journey were chronicled by Henry May. Tragically Lancaster’s cure was soon forgotten and more than 170 years were to pass before Captain James Cook rediscovered the beneficial effects of citrus fruit in combating scurvy.

In the intervening years many sailors had lost their life – yet one questions what would have happened in many organisations if the idea had been submitted. Would the suggestor have been told that it was not a new idea? What was it doing – resting? Even if the idea had been re-introduced then many people would be given no credit for bringing it to the attention of their manager.

The foolishness of this, and the harm that it can do to personal relationships and the damage to the credibility of the suggestion program makes it an issue that managers must fight. If evaluators do give this response, do not pass on the message to the suggestor. Give the suggestor thanks and praise and let them be featured in articles under such headlines as “Suggestor James Cook Reminds us of a Lost Practice! Well done James.”

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