Dealing with naysayer’s and Innovation Killers

Who are naysayer’s?

One who frequently engages in excessive complaining, negative banter and/or a genuinely poor and downbeat attitude. Naysayers are distinguished by their tendency to consistently view the glass half empty and constantly emphasize the worst of a situation. They have the keen ability to spread their pessimistic attitude to a group of unsuspecting bystanders and encourage others to employ their mindset.

Who are Innovation Killers?

There are innovation killers in your group. You might not notice them because you have over the years grown tolerant of them, but an outsider or an innovator could spot them in a minute. I call innovation killers “that will never work” people because the minute someone comes up with a new idea, these individuals are first to offer up reasons why the new idea “will never work” or “the problem with that is.”

Don’t compare normal debate and healthy discussion with Innovation killers.

Understand this, not every pitch should be accepted by your team. Lets face it the idea of having a team meeting is to get opinions. In fact the best companies have small teams that debate ideas and innovate in very creative ways.

How to Identify “Innovation Champions?”

They are always looking for ways to change or improve things. They get upset with people that want to maintain the status quo. They seek out and fully support almost any kind of risk-taking and innovation. These individuals are essential if you expect to build a competitive advantage.

“Easy to Convincers” are dangerous.

There are people in your group that will agree to any idea that you suggest. Maybe they strongly believe in you or you are their boss. This type of person is worse than the innovation killer, because you are not getting any feedback. Blindly accepting ideas without debate and alteration can be dangerous. If you find that everyone just loves your idea, take the time to form another group with less supporters and see how they like it. Take it out to managers you trust that are not involved in the idea, but could offer insight.

Healthy debate from your team of “Must-Be-Convinced” people

They are comfortable with the status quo but with sufficient arguments and a strong business case, they will support moderate change. Seek out this type of person or manager in your company because they will be your sage advisor and keep your company on task and in line with your mission statement.

Naysayers can ruin innovation if you listen

Naysayers can ruin innovation if you listen

Top 7 Phrases of the Naysayer are:

  1. “That will never work.”
  2. “The problem with that is…”
  3. “That’s OK in theory.. But I have been a ____ for ____ Years and based on my experience, it wont work”
  4. “We have always done it another way.”
  5. “Our team does not like change and some will quit.”
  6. “We tried that before… and it didn’t work.”
  7. “We are different… and it would never work here because it doesn’t fit our culture.”

They are apposed to innovation and ideas that they did not think of.

5 7 ways to deal with Naysayers, Hecklers and Innovation Killers?

  1. Post the list of innovation killer phrases on the wall before your meeting starts.
  2. Start the meeting by announcing that: “While I encourage debate, I will not allow any one person to hijack the meeting.” Look directly at them as you say it.
  3. Don’t engage at all. If you give them time they will pounce and ruin your presentation. Don’t justify yourself, qualify yourself or rationalize with them. You know their advice will be sour and unhelpful, so why give them purchase in the conversation.
  4. Try saying thing like: “Oh” or “Noted” or “Got yea” then continue like they never spoke. Much of the time they will not continue to hackle because they are not getting any feedback.
  5. Try to be positive in a room full of naysayers

    Try to be positive in a room full of naysayers

    Demonstrate the damage they are causing or make a joke out of their antics. Say something like: “This is a no whine zone” or “Really Mickey, that’s what you have to say” smirking. One tactful way is to simply walk up and whisper something in their ear, like “Give me a few minutes to show what I mean” then laugh and continue your meeting.

  6. Postpone them, “Got ya, why don’t we discuss your suggestions after the meeting, are you available at 3:15?”
  7. Encourage “Find a way” teammates. Reward individuals with phrase when they work with you to “Find a way” to make your ideas work. Make heroes out of people who talk about examples of how they seen your idea work or can give you a benchmark starting point where the idea can succeed from.

By Kevin Leigh

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