Innovation Is For The Hesitant

In a recent conversation with an HR professional from a technology company who attended  one of my Superpowers Innovation sessions, we had a dialogue around how they could engage their organization in more connected problem solving. They said that the session was great but just couldn’t see people from their organization making the leap to a workshop on superpowers, “our guys would think it was too fluffy to produce results”.

I told them that this is not an unusual challenge, most organizations and people want to quantify and organize learning and engagement in a more linear way, ie. it fits into this existing category, especially when trying to be able to tell a story to others which would make them want to leap towards it instead of run fearfully in the opposite direction.

The truth is creativity and innovation have some fuzzy edges which do scare most organizations away from developing people and strategies in the area. Most of us like things to come packaged  in a way that is absolutely straightforward with no curves in the road.  Give us something with grey areas and then add the possibility of vulnerability, and most of us won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. When it comes to creating and collaborating to produce outstanding solutions the best ideas live nestled within the curiosity, talents and ideas of many that often haven’t seen the light of day for a while. It takes bravery, experiments and failures to get to the really great thoughts and actions and that means finding a place to build trust from.

I left the conversation vowing to find a practical plan to assist them and of course the universe has a funny way of answering the questions we have. Two days later I had a call from an organization wanting to do a workshop on time management for their IT department. Once we chatted a little further it became clear that this wasn’t really about time management but more around productivity and with that I was able to reframe the solution through the lens of creative problem solving tools which would help them to deal with both time and productivity issues. It was an Aha moment for me and clear that being able to provide an edge to pull towards them which was familiar meant they were able to make the leap to new tools they might not have considered before.

I quickly sent a note to the HR person I had been speaking with and her response was fabulous, including that it made total sense to use a starting point that felt known and which they could create an opening for various teams to join in the conversation from, shaping an outcome they all were connected to.  By the way that’s exactly what great problem solving should be, a feeling of having put our best selves forward in an open non judgemental way that leads to people feeling more connected.

Start by finding a safe place for everyone to work from and they will end up using the powers they have to take themselves, their ideas and your organization to a whole new level. Often it’s just finding a comfortable spot to begin taking risks from.

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