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Pitch your big idea

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Jonah’s boss always tells employees to “think outside the box.” But when they do, top executives always turn them down. How can you convince the boss to try your ideas?

Start by not selling an innovative big idea. Some executives get nervous about doing something they perceive as new and risky. Even the notoriously innovative Steve Jobs says “no” most of the time. Follow these steps:

1. Get an endorsement to investigate a business challenge. Rather than pitching your new idea right away, gain your boss’s support for sticking your toe in the water.

2. Come to an agreement on how to come up with ideas for tackling it.

3. Update frequently, letting him know how you’re interpreting the challenge. When the time is right to present your business solution, your boss will more easily embrace it.

—Adapted from "How to Sell an Idea to Your Boss," Roberto Verganti, Harvard Business Review's "The Conversation" blog.

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