… smarter than you think. – A. A. Milne
But perhaps only if you work in the right environment?
It is an environment in which the best leaders are going to foster, sustain, and reward innovation.
Yet easier said than done for leaders for whom this is a whole new paradigm. So, imagine the thrill when the Harvard Business Review published a wonderful “how to” article this week. The article not only reinforced the theme of last week’s blog—but the author was clever enough to give seven concrete ways to create the kind of environment in which people are going to feel comfortable taking chances. Experimenting. Improvising. Innovating. Being Creative. All the things that the Autumn of Covid requires.
The author, Timothy R. Clark, announces at the outset of his article that once you stop innovating, you die. He dubs the required culture one of Intellectual Bravery, a superb concept and phrase. Who is responsible for creating, cultivating, and sustaining this culture? The leader.
All seven of the techniques or behaviors he points out are wonderful, but if you could only do four, CHRC prioritizes these:
- Take your finger off the fear button – credit once again to John Cleese; sorry, Machiavelli
- Assign dissent – rotate the role of Devil’s advocate
- Model vulnerability – if a leader cannot do this after the last seven months … question his humanity
- Weigh in last – Probably the most valuable tactic of all. As consultants we have watched an entire day’s worth of desperately needed information and input get instantly silenced by a leader who airs his opinions first.
History rewards the brave, and apparently, so does innovation.