The fear of backlash silences so many people with great ideas. While talking about Rebels at Work yesterday a regional manager of an automotive parts company told me, "Lois I have plenty of good ideas on how to improve things at work and I know how to position ideas and connect them to what the company cares about.
"But if I if I say anything the backlash will be horrible. People's careers are ruined for speaking up at my company. I just can't risk my reputation."
So here's the deal. Don't go it alone.
Find some allies who also believe there's a way to solve the problem and together take it to your boss. If there's a handful of people supporting a new approach the boss is much more likely to consider the idea than if it's just you, and there's less likelihood of personal backlash.
Unfortunately it's easy for a boss to discredit one person who disagrees with the way the organization is being run. "He's over his head. He doesn't have enough experience. He's such a damn know-it-all. Etc. Etc. But to discredit five or 10 people? Now the boss is paying attention.
If you really want to avoid backlash, get 10 percent of the people in your organization behind the idea. Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when 10 percent of a population holds a strong belief, the belief will be adopted. (Here's the link to the study.)
When you have to play corporate politics, play with a team.