Are you an idea killer?
Do you tell people you think "out of the box" in concept, but then in practice unintentionally squelch great ideas before they germinate - or don't give the flames the oxygen they need?
With all the publicity given to those who innovate, there are academics studying why ideas don't see the light of day. Wharton's Jennifer Mueller, for example, published a study last year studying why businesses desire innovation, but reject creative ideas - thus effectively blocking corporate creativity.
Why is the corner office reluctant to nurture those who bring ideas to life - to recognize that innovation is by definition the act of breaking corporate patterns? According to Mueller, two hurdles emerge: the mindset of the organization and the fact that creative ideas don't have baked-in metrics or data to back them up. This results in a "how/best" mindset to make the best decision quickly so you don't go down the wrong path - but as anyone who has explored a major city or your local state park knows... sometimes the wrong path brings the most beautiful outlook.
A recent Harvard Business Review article by David Burkus suggests that "it's not an idea problem; it's a recognition problem." Companies must develop a "democratization of recognition" that shifts the approval process away from one decision-maker to many - increasing support, decreasing the likelihood that good ideas are killed in the corner office.
We need to develop a tolerance for creativity, and be mindful of a bias against creativity in favor of safer, calculated risks - a leadership skill that needs nurturing in today's society fixated on being the best, the most successful, and the most knowledgeable all the time. It's heartening to see funding coming back to the arts, and to see the art of creativity taking a seat in today's classrooms, from tots in primary schools through future leaders on college campuses and vocational schools nationwide. If innovation is the main dish on the menu, failure is as natural as a side of fries.
Winston Churchill famously said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Those of us in creative fields know there are no secrets to success, no immunization against failure. Corporate leaders may also heed Churchill's rallying cry against corporate creativity bias: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Let's embrace creativity - in all its forms - and that includes the notion that failing with great gusto is the pathway to true innovation and viable new services or products in the marketplace.