Another communication anti-pattern “Not invented here.”

Yesterday’s blog produced a lot of emails. Most of them were anti- my position that self promotion is good. In fact I think only two or three out of the 20+ in the end took my side.

  • “Self promoters are bad news. They are only interested in what they did.”
  • “A self promoter on your team will ruin your team.”

Those were the two most prevalent statements. First off to my mailers – absolutes are never right. By definition there are always points of failure within absolute statements. Plus the reality of self-promotion isn’t that the person is only thinking of themselves. A good self promoter is someone that makes sure their contribution is known. The only way to effectively do that is to in the end also promote the team. A good self-promoters thinks about promoting their team as much as if not more them they promote themselves.

PT Barnum and the carnival hawkers are responsible for some of the shift to negative for self promotion. Standing outside a tent selling something that a wasn’t real and b wasn’t what they were selling. But it is important to remember that in the end they were selling something to rip people off. A self-promoter isn’t trying to rip people off. They are trying to make sure they get credit for what they are doing.

In the end part of the problem and reality of self-promotion goes back to innovation. In my book about innovation I talked about the things that limit or contribute to the limitation of innovation. Many of those things  The reality is that in many cases self promoters are simply trying to make sure their messaging is heard.

For example when you create something new that doesn’t exist today you need to let other people know about it. That is self-promotion in the end. People see it that way as well, coming away from the meeting you call about the innovation with the taste of self-promotion in their mouths. Some of them are doubters and start working to undermine the self-promoter/innovator. Some of them are in the anti-pattern I call not invented here.

The not invented here anti-pattern can at times produce a positive reaction from the innovator.  The innovator in the end has a greater self-promotion voice than the the not invented here voice is. More often than not like the doubter anti-pattern the not invented here anti-pattern is a stifler not an enabler.

Interesting by the way to end the blog today. The emails I got from various people about how bad the self-promoters were came from people that I had pegged as either doubters or not invented here communicators a long time ago.

The greatest advice I ever got “believe in yourself.” In the end you are the only one who has to believe in yourself.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

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