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Last week I had an inspiration presentation to one of our customers about creativity and innovation, and I want to share some thoughts from that session.

After talking about how to boost innovation both through firm methodologies and business processes combined with funnier, day-to-day tips and tricks, we got into a very interesting discussion.

We discussed the challenge of how to handle innovations that are generated all over the globe and the perceived barriers to being more innovative. There were questions such as;

  • How can new ideas be communicated?
  • How do you organize and prioritize them?
  • How do you overcome cultural resistance to change?
  • And, the most interesting one: how to overcome the fear of failure?

We discussed whether your fear of failure is due to the fear of losing your job or damaging your career. I asked if anyone has really lost their job due to that kind of failure, but the answer was ‘no’. So maybe the fear is just a perception? …. and they nodded in agreement.

So we come to the conclusion that shaping an innovation culture is about crushing the perception of failure. And, to achieve such an innovation culture, corporate management has to communicate trust in a crucial component: you’re allowed to fail.

I continued to talk about “how to make the perfect pitch for your idea”; you can read more about that in my previous post .

Because coming up with new ideas is not necessarily the main problem. The bigger challenge is to teach people how to make the right pitch, to get buy-in from the manager who will agree to spend money and resources on your idea.

I read a blog post a while ago saying that there shouldn’t be a business case for innovation as it is something that is brand new and you don’t know if, when, or how it will be received on the market. “Don’t kill an idea with a business case” was the conclusion. I agree.

We concluded our discussion by saying that failure is not in vain, but actually valuable knowledge about how NOT to do it. That knowledge is critical for ultimately learning how it should be done.

Talking about innovations with customers is so much fun because you can see it in their eyes that everyone wants to be more creative. Lots of energy is released in the room if you manage to get through their day-to-day challenges.

During this day together, I think we took some important steps forward just by shaping our mindset to believe that being creative should not be a risk, but an opportunity.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar

    Mohamed Ziyan

    “Don’t kill an idea with a business case!!!” – It needs couple of exclamation symbols too :-)

    Yeah… that can happen very often in enterprises. Even the “Fear of failure” is also linked to above. It can be either we are afraid that others won’t take it as a strong business case or we are not sure even, at the time of idea popup.

    One approach we can try out is the “Six Thinking Hats” framework. When an idea pops up, interested parties shall get together (including the person who gave the birth to the idea) and try parallel thinking. This will foster collaborative thinking and Interaction, encourage the full exploration of ideas (without getting biased) and give time to enrich the original idea as well. More info

    This may not work perfect or practical in all situations but, probably worth give it a try. If people start seeing this happens, then, whatever the outcome of it, they know that their ideas are at least discussed in an effective manner. Isn’t it an encouragement?

  2. Avatar

    Ian Mapp

    Renowned Irish writer and innovator in the theatre Samuel Beckett put it well: “Fail, fail again. Fail better.”


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