Rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission
No, this is not an open invitation to be reckless and outright stupid. Instead I am trying to entice more folks to stop waiting for change and miracles to happen on their own. Most people will not try our new ideas or start prototyping doing things differently – especially at work.
Be honest with yourself here. When was the last time that you went out on a limb and e.g. went against policy in order to help a customer in need, tried out a new working procedure just to see if you could improve it, inventing a new product / service, try a new process, etc.? There is so much creativity bunched up in people’s heads that it is mind boggling how little this gets used.
When you prepare all your steps carefully there is a great chance that you will also be able to succeed with the whole concept. As long as you involve and collaborate with all necessary people you can limit the risk to a great extent.
During and after you implement your idea you will encounter one of three main responses:
- You have success and your peers and boss are embracing it. Great news. This organization values their team members and your ideas are embraced. Everyone gets something out of it.
- You tried hard, but your idea turned out to be a bunny trail, a dead end. Peers and management still embrace what you have found out. That is still great news especially because everyone can check it off the list.
- The third response is unfortunately also one that happens very frequently in toxic workplaces. You get scolded for trying something off script and it does not even matter whether or not your idea showed success or not. Your supervisor may even yell at you and / or write you up for the whole thing. In a way this is a success for you because this shows that you may not be working in the best place and should start looking elsewhere. That’s totally your choice.
1. and 2. make everyone including customers better off since there is a new option at the horizon. 3. tells you something about the values of the organization and if they do not match with yours, you will find it hard to keep working there. It’s another option for you at the horizon. Either way, there is more clarity. Point here is that no matter which response you will encounter, it’s going to be a win-win situation for you.
They all have a common denominator too. Asking your leader-manager for permission trying something new or different will unlikely be implemented at all or if it does get considered it may be painfully slow and not in the way how you intended it to go. That’s why it makes sense to carefully weigh your risks and go for testing your idea one way or the other anyway – it’s much easier begging for forgiveness later than asking for permission. Now you only need the courage to get going.