Guest blog: Lucy Gower. Lucy is founder and director at Lucidity. She is a coach, trainer and consultant specialising in giving people the confidence and tools to think creatively, develop ideas and make their innovations happen.
The word ‘innovation’ is (in my view) a buzzword. The concept can mean very different things to different people. For example, you or your organisation might want to be disruptive and build brand new ideas that challenge current thinking and business models, or you might choose to make incremental changes, or you may opt to focus on service development. They are not mutually exclusive; you might opt to do them all. There is no one, exclusive right or wrong approach to innovation. And, sadly, there is no silver bullet.
Whether innovation is disruptive, radical, marginal, incremental (or whatever the next buzzword prefix is) the best innovation happens when people work as a team, build on each other’s ideas, incorporate new elements, develop fresh perspectives, understand audiences and focus on how to make the idea a reality.
In my experience, the biggest barrier to delivering innovation (of which there are many let’s face it: fear of failure, fear of success, too many deadlines, wanting immediate results, internal politics, external politics, no budget, too busy…the list is endless) is lack of confidence.
And this lack of confidence is incubated by all the barriers and blockers that we battle with on a day-to-day basis when we attempt to create any sort of change.
I think it all starts early in life – in school.
Cast your minds back to showing your parents or your teacher your maths homework. There were 40 questions. You got 38 right. Yet rather than getting a pat on the back for the 38 right answers, the focus from your parents and teachers was on the two answers you got incorrect.
And in education, as we grow older, we learn that we get rewarded for getting things correct and following instructions rigidly. Not for inquisitive enquiry, experimenting with ideas, being different or asking questions. And certainly not for getting things wrong.
The impact is that we conform. We feel safer sticking with what we know, we prefer not to take risks, and we like to be rewarded for getting things right. We prefer not to challenge or test new ideas that may fail or be marked wrong.
I think the only people with objectives around thinking differently or (dare I say it) failure are the innovation managers. Organisations may talk about innovation, but few structures and processes really encourage any different or creative thinking. Innovations are often blocked (see blockers above) or fail to gain traction because insufficient time and resources are invested into helping them succeed.
Layer on top that most of us (I have one too) have an inner voice that nags away at us, telling us we’ll get found out, or we’ll fail or that we’ll never be quite good enough.
The little voice nags away and, especially when we are doing something new or different (innovating), it 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.
That’s why at Lucidity when we help individuals and organisations to innovate, 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’m running a free training webinar on building your confidence at 12.30pm UK time (BST) on Tuesday 10 July. By the end of the webinar you’ll have a stack of practical tips and advice to:
- Build your confidence when you need it most
- Better manage your inner critic and get the results you want
- Implement proven strategies to help you stay confident
- Find the courage to take action and keep going despite knockbacks
- Take action straight away and take your performance to the next level.
Places are limited so sign up today and reserve your spot by clicking on the link.