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Not all ideas are winners but management has to keep the fire alive

Not all ideas are winners but management has to keep the fire alive

Dealing with many ideas by Rikus Grobler of Namibia Innovation Solutions

In the previous two deliveries I discussed the matter of how employees can increase the chances of getting their ideas implemented in their organisations. In this delivery I want to argue the other side of the situation, meaning how to deal with “not so good” ideas, and how to give feedback in such a manner that the contributor’s enthusiasm is not crushed.

The reality is that not all ideas are winners. Even people who come forward with a winning idea, probably had a couple of “sub-standard” ideas before hitting the jackpot. I have also very rarely seen that an idea, when first being shared, is in such a format that it can be implemented straightaway. It usually takes some tinkering and modification to get it in an implementable form, and even during execution, alterations will be made, because you never think in advance of every single scenario that might pop pup.

Receive all ideas in such a way and with such respect that the originators will be keen to keep offering new ideas.

Linus Pauling said: “To have good ideas, you must have many ideas”, which certainly holds some truth in it. There are however innovation thought leaders who differ from this philosophy, for many reasons, but amongst others, that it becomes an administrative nightmare to review, rate and give feedback to large quantities of ideas. In large organisations, it requires proper systems and manpower to handle idea management properly.

I want to remind you that you can avoid the flood of mediocre to bad ideas by making sure that you focus your innovation efforts, have transparent evaluation criteria and set proper guidelines for the type of ideas the organisation is looking fro. Yes, sometimes you want to have an “anything goes” approach, which fosters creativity, but then you must be prepared to handle the consequences of such an approach.

Having said all that, the situation will still come up where an employee, colleague or even your supervisor “confronts” you with an idea that he/she thinks is the best idea ever and it just has to be implemented. But for some or other reason – not aligned to strategy, too expensive, etc. – it just can not be implemented.

Regular readers will know the emphasis I always put on the innovation culture and the importance of giving proper feedback to anybody who submits an idea. The reason being that ideas are the starting point of innovation, and if you destroy it there, it will be almost impossible to get your innovation efforts off the ground.

Now this is not a psychology column, so I am not going into the psychological aspects of rejection, but I have found the following advice from Jeffrey Baumgartner simple and effective when dealing with ideas.

Baumgartner’s method is called the “Three Cs”: 1. Consider, 2. Compliment, 3. Challenge.

1. Consider. Do not immediately analyse the idea and then reject it. Considering an idea involves envisioning the implementation of the idea and how it might work.

2. Compliment. Compliments are wonderful things! I try to use them all the time. Compliments make people feel good about themselves and what they are doing. Compliments motivate people to continue to be deserving of the compliment. I prefer people to act in the hope of being complimented rather than in fear of being criticised. Having considered the idea, you should complement it. Ideally, the consideration will generate the compliment, e.g. “I’m glad you are looking at ways to make the sales process more efficient”. But, if nothing else, saying: “that’s a good idea.” or “it’s good you are thinking creatively” are useful standbys.

3. Challenge. Having considered an idea and complimented it, the final step is to challenge the idea’s originator to improve the idea. In particular, you should look at the issue that begs to trigger criticism. For example, it could be the cost of implementing the idea. Then twist that problem into a creative challenge, e.g. ask: “Can you think of ways we might accomplish the same thing but within a reasonable budget”?

Next Time

The Three-Cs is a simple, yet remarkably powerful method for dealing with ideas. Next time I want to discuss innovation culture again.

I conclude with a quote by Frank A Clark: “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots”.

Llopis, G. 2013. The 12 Things That Successfully Convert a Great Idea Into a Reality. Online:



About The Author

Rikus Grobler

Dr Rikus Grobler is a Namibian academic, inventor, entrepreneur, public speaker, and management consultant who specialises in the development of the innovation capability of companies and individuals. He holds degrees in Engineering and Law, and has an MBA and a PhD in Business Administration. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and he has also completed studies in design thinking and patenting. He has engaged leading Namibian organisations such as The Capricorn Group, Agra, Old Mutual Namibia, The Bank of Namibia, City of Windhoek, The Government of Namibia, Afrox Namibia, and Hollard Namibia. An experienced professional with a background in manufacturing, information technology, tertiary education and financial services, Dr Grobler has been involved in innovation management for the past 10 years and currently holds the position of Manager: Innovation for the Capricorn Group in Namibia. He is particularly interested in creativity, innovation and invention, and his mission is to provide performance-enhancing innovation management services that enable organisations and individuals to fully exploit their creative potential to reach their goals.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.