Radical or incremental when it comes to innovation the key word is confidence

Innovation is an old-fashioned term these days. It seems that to keep it sexy you’ve got to use a prefix. Disruptive or radical, marginal or incremental. We can’t just plain innovate anymore.

In my experience whether innovation is disruptive, radical, marginal or whatever the next buzz prefix is; unless you have innovation in your job title innovation gets passed on as someone else’s job. Innovation is the work of the ‘creative people’. I felt this when I was an innovation manager in an organisation, all sorts of stuff landed on my desk with a friendly post-it attached along the lines of ‘its innovation – you work it out’.

In my view the best innovation happens when people work together, build on each other’s ideas, add new elements, develop new perspectives, understand audiences and focus on how to make the idea a reality.

I think the biggest barrier to delivering innovation (of which there are many lets face it, fear of failure, fear of success, internal politics, external politics, no budget, too busy, too many deadlines, wanting immediate results, the list goes on) is lack of confidence.

Lack of confidence, which is incubated by all the blockers and barriers that we battle with on a day-to-day basis when we try to create any sort of change.

I think it all starts in school. You get rewarded for getting things right, not for inquisitive enquiry, being different or asking questions. Like Pavlov’s dog we go to work and are rewarded for getting things right, for conforming. The only people with objectives around thinking differently or (dare I say it) failure are the innovation managers. Organisations talk about innovation, but their structures and processes do not encourage any different or creative thinking. Innovation is often blocked (see blockers above) or fails to gain traction because insufficient time and resource are invested into helping it succeed.

That’s why over at Lucidity we work with people to help them build both their confidence and their capacity for innovation. Because we’ve learned from our own hard-fought failures that without confidence even the best ideas die on the vine.

Confidence is such a big deal that I’ve set up the Lucidity Network to provide inspiration and a support network to help give people the confidence achieve the results they want. Click here for more information and to sign up. Early bird discounts end at midnight on Monday 16 July. Hurry as places are limited. Don’t miss out and sign up today! 

 

Jun
26

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Do you have an inner voice that sucks your confidence? You are not alone.

When I read sweeping research claims I do tend to take them with a pinch of salt. Here’s one ‘Women don’t apply for jobs unless 100% qualified and men will apply when they have only 60% of what’s required’

I first read this in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In with a raised eyebrow and I thought it was complete rubbish. Then I started to notice more. I spotted more women saying no to opportunities. Not going for the promotion. Not taking on the new project. Not stepping up. I heard the same clichés ‘I don’t think I can do it’ ‘I’m not qualified’ ‘So-and-so is better than me’ and ‘So-and-so deserves it’

I started quoting the 100% qualified vs 60% qualified research to them and asked them to prove it to be false by going for the promotion and taking the opportunities that they wanted and deserved.

Many did, and in the discussion about why they could and should step up, everyone revealed an inner dialogue that they’d had to overcome. Each person had their own name for it. The ‘official’ term is Imposter Syndrome, but amongst others, I met Jiminy Cricket, the little voice on my shoulder, ‘bad <insert persons name>’, devil’s advocate and my inner critic. The list was long.

For most of us (I have one too) the inner voice is like an old friend that sucks the fun and possibility out of your dreams and leaves you with a feeling of woeful uneasiness that if you get too big for your boots and put yourself out there you are going to ‘get found out’. Or worst still something bad will happen to pay you back for being greedy and wanting too much.

The little voice nags away, becomes louder, more insistent, more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know because then you are safe and nothing bad will happen.

Sound familiar?

I disagree that the critical voice is just the territory of women, I think every human being has the voice. My hunch is that it’s the difference between how men and women manage their inner critic that is the difference that might mean that the 100% vs 60% has some truth to it.

Harvard Business Review claims that it’s not confidence that stops women going for the job, but a greater fear of failure because girls do better at school and it’s more instilled in us to follow rules and conform – and we perceive failure as having greater and longer lasting consequences. Conversely, men have a greater willingness to break rules and are less inclined to follow instructions (in the context of applying for jobs breaking the rules and ignoring instructions of needing a certain amount of qualifications and experience) and just apply for the job anyway. Men are better at ignoring or telling their inner critic to pipe down.

Make of it what you will, I see similar fears fuelled by the inner critics of both men and women I work with.

Confidence is such a big deal for achieving success that I’ve set up the Lucidity Network to provide inspiration and a support network to help give people the confidence achieve the results they want. Click here for more information and to sign up. Early bird discounts end at midnight on Monday 16 July. Hurry as places are limited. Don’t miss out and sign up today! 

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