Note : This is a externalised version of a post on the Internal blog. So, colleagues who have have read that, please bear with me.

If you are reading this, I hope it was because the title was provocative enough. Thanks.

Was my failure really the reason for failure in my company ? You decide. While I am going to quote a personal example here, the “I” can well be any of the millions of  employees across the globe. I know you will be to place yourself or someone you know as the “I” here. I look forward to your own experience supporting or disputing my view.

The realization of this failure of mine came when I used a service that had been hived off from my company. I was looking forward to see what the team had done once they were outside and I was shocked. No, it was not the service itself – that had improved a lot. But one of the first things I would have had to do was to break the link of the service with my company and instead use another. (Apologies for being cryptic to avoid breaking confidentiality)

So, what had this to do with me ? More that a year before that had happened, I had identified an opportunity for the company to build a link with 3rd parties that would have built loyalty – that would have led to many services building links to our company rather than breaking them as just happened.

– It was a dream I had – it would be used by millions and millions of 3rd parties, not just by in-house services.

– It was a dream I had – when the competition had not started on that path yet.

– It was a dream I had – when we were the only player who had the reach to have done that.

It was a dream I had and shared as widely as I could. On internal sites that asked for employee ideas. One on One with the senior most executive responsible for this area. In direct emails to other executives.

And it had just stayed a dream ! The new hived off service was a sharp reality check. It was not that we did not have many 3rd parties jumping on, we just lost the easiest reference case we could have had.

Today, that game has been lost. Others have taken the role that my company could have.

So where did I fail? I do not have an answer, just more questions. Was there more I could have done to convince the decision makers? Did I talk to the wrong people? Was I not compelling enough? Was I just plain wrong and would it have remained just a dream ?

The answer to the last question is the only one thing I am sure of now. Every time I use the competing service, I know I was not plain wrong. It was an opportunity that others have now clearly seized.

I know I was not unique. I am sure others in my company had the same or similar idea. I know each of us did what is needed in our sphere of influence and tried to do more outside. And I know most of the effort got lost in the vast jungle of a large company decision making.

And I have heard similar stories from friends in other companies too. And I am sure you know some too.

And therein lays the company’s lost opportunity or the failure I alluded to in the Title of this post.

When each of us employees fail in getting their best ideas across and implemented, it is not just the employee that fails, it is the company.

There are means and methods to really avoid these kinds of failures. The tools are there, the people are willing. Participation in internal social tools offer a clear evidence of the employee’s willingness to participate. But, as in my experience, separating the wheat from the chaff, picking the right ones and nurturing them is hard work.

Companies need to put the effort and resources to make sure the ideas of the many “I”s in the company are heard and responded to!