Rotman Management

Pitching Novel Ideas: A User’s Guide to Success

INNOVATION IS WIDELY ACCEPTED as the driving force for organizational growth and competitiveness. Yet academics and practitioners alike continue to lament the slow pace of innovation and seek remedies to accelerate it. One reason for the disappointing pace may be the fact that employees’ creative ideas often fail to receive a positive assessment from management.

For example, although Kodak’s research lab invented the world’s first digital camera, its managers failed to appreciate this new product idea, enabling Sony to eventually overtake Kodak as the market leader in the digital photography space. Similarly, while Xerox developed a blueprint for the first personal computer, insufficient investment by its management allowed Steve Jobs and Apple to snatch the opportunity away and exploit it.

Research suggests that, despite espousing creativity as a desired goal, individuals in decision-making roles often fail to recognize — and even reject — creative ideas, in part due to their intolerance for uncertainty, which is an inherent aspect of novel ideas. Other research has pointed to a variety of conditions that may bias individuals in managerial positions toward judging creative ideas negatively.

To help organizations overcome these barriers, there has been a call for tools that aid in the recognition of creativity. In this article we will summarize our recent paper, in which we provide a model for successfully pitching ideas in

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