Posts Tagged innovation

Fear of failure and disruption; on stifling innovation.

Posted by on Thursday, 2 May, 2013

IMG_3498I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, but what does it really mean to not be afraid to fail? I know a lot of us may say we’re not, but when it comes down to it, do our actions prove that to be true? In my experience and observations, no, they don’t.

For whatever reason, our culture has supported and ingrained the idea that failure is bad; that we must do everything in our power to appear successful regardless of the actual truth. I’m sure you’ve heard the business advice often provided to startups: “fail fast and fail often”. When this advice is taken to heart failure ceases to be scary and simply becomes a form of very valuable feedback. It is precisely this (or really, ANY) kind of feedback for which we are all so starved. Some of us get more feedback than others, granted, but I’m relatively certain none of us get anywhere near enough of it.

By only highlighting our successes, and hiding our failures, we are actually doing ourselves and our businesses critical disservice. How can we grow and evolve, or do the *right* things when we sublimate such important feedback and pretend we are all amazingly successful?

And wouldn’t you know, as I was writing this post, I serendipitously came across the following article also posted today by Brian Solis: Disruptive Selection – Natures way of weeding out the average business

In some ways, I think failure is seen as a disruptor as Brian points out: like it is something to stifle and subdue, rather than learn and innovate from as a lesson in either what not to do or how to change. Fear drives both the aversion to disruption, as well as the desire to hide failure. But, as Brian points out, the digital Darwinsim metaphor fits nicely as disruption (and failure) naturally evolve towards deeper innovation and ultimately more successes when it is understood and allowed to occur. Progress and success, however, are only stifled when disruption and failure aren’t even allowed to be recognized or acknowledged.

It is the cycle of business; innovate or die. In this cycle we must not only make room for disruption and failure to occur, but embrace them when they do. Only then can we see true innovation, change, and eventually success again.

Take an afternoon shower

Posted by on Friday, 10 August, 2012

This morning I posted a short bog article on Notes from Rational Support outlining the “Think Friday” and hackday concepts in IBM as different ways of implementing Google’s 20% time policy. I’d encourage you to take a few moments and check it out…. In that short post, however I didn’t touch on the logistics of how to make the shift from focused work to a more creative or non-work related project.

For many of us, it is difficult if not impossible to simply flip a switch and go from your daily tasks to allowing the muse to take hold. Sometimes you just need to stop and refocus when inspiration hits, other times you need to set aside a specific period of time to devote and hope that the creativity flows when you want it to.

So, what do you do when you need to be innovative or creative in a set period of time?
What works for me: mid-afternoon showers.

I doubt I’ll find any disagreement that some (if not most) of our best ideas come to us in the shower. So, use that to your advantage! Now I know many of you may not have the luxury afforded to me by working from home, and for that I’m sorry. I have, however, found that an afternoon shower both invigorates me as well as gives me the time to detach from technology and think over problems rather than acting upon them. That combination often coalesces in small epiphanies or germination of ideas to follow-up on later, typically within 20 minutes time, if only to write it down so I don’t forget.

What to do if you don’t have opportunity to take a mi-afternoon shower? Well, make whatever time you have work for you. If you are like me and get great ideas in the shower, perhaps waking 30 minutes earlier to give you time to write ideas down immediately after your morning shower, or showering in the evening/night and taking the time to log down ideas to build out later will work for you. Or, maybe showers aren’t the trigger for your muse… find what is and give some attention, some time to flourish; after all, your muse will do nothing if it doesn’t have some level of priority in your life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some ideas to go think about…


image credit: (cc) Some rights reserved by stevendepolo