We love this blog piece, especially the analysis of framing innovation as ‘problem’ vs opportunity – and how people’s fears of ‘saying something stupid’ are a barrier to innovation. Obvious, but very, very true and often overlooked.
Personal take-aways from: Chapter 4: Of Innovation, Intuition and Imposters: Intangible Vulnerabilities in the Brains of Great Leaders (Pages 91-101)
Making “problems” part of innovation appears to be a substantial mindset change to discover new solutions. Knowing that a problem is something “normal” will relax people to take their time to find the similarities across great semantic differences. The saying “just give it time” makes even more sense now. This goes hand in hand with other topics discussed in other parts of the book; a focus change away from the perception that a problem is something negative towards something positive: that a problem is one way of innovation calling to be discovered.
It also seems to be important to have created a context for innovation in terms of the company culture. Although the book doesn’t specifically state it that way, but the fact that there may be tensions between madness and creativity, might explain the following thought process: “I don’t want to sound like a fool in front of my employees/the others.” Leaders might fall short of their own creative potential because they are afraid to say something “stupid” because they think that if the people they work with don’t understand it, they will have lose the leadership status they have had in the past. The same might be the reason why sometimes innovation is so hard to come by: because people are afraid to say something “stupid” that cannot be understood by the mindsets and paradigms of the people they work with. Changing this context by creating an “idea-free zone” might help people and leaders to truly open up without feeling the pressure of having to sound “intelligent” or to be understood. To challenge the status-quo might call for “stupid ideas.” Let´s think about the great inventors such as Bell, Tesla, the Wright Brothers and Babbage.