Sometimes an organization isn’t ready to address a deficiency or try a better way of doing things. Other needs seem more pressing. This can be frustrating to a follower who feels strongly about an issue. Throwing up our hands and giving up is not assuming responsibility. Our challenge is to find a way to test our ideas by putting them into action and demonstrating their potential. With determination and creativity, new processes and approaches can usually be piloted without a prohibitive expenditure of resources. Designing a pilot that can be conducted out of an existing budget simplifies or eliminates the initial approval process.
In addition to designing a sound pilot with good measurements, we need to pay attention to how we will build consensus for the idea if the pilot is successful. Our chances for gaining acceptance of the idea improve if we secure the early involvement of people whose opinion decision makers value. They will help us take our idea from the successful pilot stage to implementation.
If we are successful, we must remember to give plenty of credit to those who supported the pilot and to the leader who tacitly let us conduct it. If the idea flops, we learn from it and move on to the next idea. When we put our ideas on the line by testing them, we risk failure. When followers initiate and take risks, there is a healthy blurring of the line between followership and leadership.