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Create, Own, and Sell a Bold New Idea

Let's face it. Many of the survival ideas for business owners and managers in times of crisis we are hearing today can be summarized in just a few lines:
  • Don't stop investing
  • Cut smart
  • Help your customers
  • Listen to your employees
  • Have your organizatilon ready to charge when the economic tundra begins to thaw
So I perked up at Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter's unique idea, expressed in her blog Change...or Else:

"Announce and own a grand concept."

Sure, you might not be able to do anything about it now, she says. "But you will be well-prepared when markets recover. Ideas are cheap to begin to articulate and brand -- and priceless once established."

She points to IBM's announcement in early November of its Smart Planet initiative, a proposal for Big Blue to lead a national forum on how technology such as smart networks can solve intractable problems like global warming. "With a modest communications effort," Kanter writes, "IBM can put the 'smart planet' idea on public policy agendas and 'own' an idea ripe for action whenever recovery occurs."

Barack Obama is certainly taking this lesson to heart. Even before being sworn in to office he is building support (not always successfully) for a number of initiatives that would have had him laughed out of politics just an few months ago: trillion-dollar deficits; expansive/expensive public works programs; bailouts/loans for the financial and auto industries. Clearly Obama takes to heart the observation that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Your idea doesn't have to be as bold as Smart Planet or as risky as massive bailouts. It could be a plan for a new department initiative, a rethinking of a company goal or value, a new method for encouraging employee ideas around big problems. Now is the time to identify it, own it, sell it, and be ready to push it forward when the time is right.

Read Kanter's list of four actions to survive the recession, and then rejoin us here to talk about your own bold ideas for the future.