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I work in one of those companies where any employee can suggest a project idea to management. My idea has been very successful, and it's now being pushed in front of the CEO. The thing is... even if this project starts, I won't be leading it. I work in a sales organisation, and it's very likely that some other colleague, working in Engineering or Product, will own this once the project starts. Moreover, even if this project is projected to bring A LOT of money to the company, this is not linked to my career progression, or to any bonus.

I am aware that many companies have this kind of initiative. So, the question is: is it worth at all participating in these initiatives, when there is no commitment from the employer to reward a successful proposal? Or, should I just put together such a proposal when I am already in a role where my involvement is already formal?

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    Depends on your personal objectives. Do you want to be viewed in our company as someone who has good ideas that benefit the company, or as someone that only operates within their own sphere and keep their head down? – Seth R Apr 9 at 17:47
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    You say your company has this initiative. Is it specified how those ideas can be brought up? (I'd say yes as you surely followed a process of some sort). Under this train of thought, I suggest you check if that process also specifies how credit is handled and if there is any bonus or something for the idea. In other words: how are you sure there is no commitment or that your employer won't reward you somehow? – DarkCygnus Apr 9 at 19:25
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    Do you have any examples from history in your company to refer to? I have been seriously punished for being in your position. The person who can benefit wants to remove the inconvenience of admitting they didn’t come up with the idea and needs to destroy any chance of you reminding people of that fact. In other companies I have been rewarded by other paths. What culture are you in? – jwpfox Apr 10 at 1:36
  • Is it worth? Yes, No ... Should I? No, Yes ... I think currently your question is entirely opinion based. What is your goal? – Daniel Apr 10 at 11:58
  • Are you getting recognition for this? It depends on how the people you submitted this idea to are apportioning credit for it. If you're getting recognition, then that can be useful for shifting job roles. Do you want to shift job roles? If you're not getting recognition, there are probably steps you can take to make sure you do (though those can get deep into office politics stuff). You likely aren't going to get straight cash out of this. Is there anything other than straight cash that you want? – Ben Barden Apr 10 at 22:38
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So, the question is: is it worth at all participating in these initiatives, when there is no commitment from the employer to reward a successful proposal? Or, should I just put together such a proposal when I am already in a role where my involvement is already formal?

A lot of it depends on what you want for your career. I have done and won an initiative like this at every company I have worked for.

I have also never stayed more than 6 months after winning such a thing at that company...

I just use it as evidence that I am ready to do more and passionate to do more. While finding a new job probably isn't possible now with COVID-19 disrupting everything, you should think long term for the next 6 months. Go on LinkedIn and see what jobs you find.

I wonder if managers ever catch on that ambition is best served by leaving their company... hmm...

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If you want to participate in bringing this idea to reality, ask for a seat at the table. In the Agile jargon, ask the person "owning" the "product" to consider you a key "stakeholder." That way you'll be included in reviews. Your input will be part of the effort.

Ask your boss to make this a formal assignment for you. It will probably take 4 hours a week for the first month, and an hour a week thereafter. You'll have a lot of influence for a relatively small amount of work.

What could you lose from this? If you're a commissioned sales person, you'll possibly cut into your earnings by spending your time this way. Only you can decide whether that's worth it.

What could you gain?

  • The personal satisfaction of seeing your idea sprout wings.
  • Social capital (respect for you personally) in various parts of your company.
  • Experience with the process of turning ideas into reality.
  • Your name on a patent, if that's the way your company rolls.
  • Possibly some kind of promotion or bonus. Keep in mind that companies don't like to promise bonuses as part of suggestion programs. They still might give them.

Any or all those things will enhance your career, in your present company or elsewhere.

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    This answer makes a lot of assumptions. Be aware your mileage may vary if any of these assumptions do not apply to your reality. – jwpfox Apr 10 at 14:26
  • The OP did use the word "entrepreneur" in his question. Entrepreneurship means adapting to circumstances. If the OP needs a cast-in-stone formula for making his project happen, well, it won't happen. – O. Jones Apr 10 at 15:56

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