The biggest barrier for innovation


Peter Drucker once said: “Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does.” It’s kind of what happens also with child-rearing. When you think everything is going smoothly and you got the hang of this parenting thing, the normal developmental stages change and all of the sudden nothing works anymore! Today, more than ever, the challenge of change is not only how fast to change, but how to look for innovative ways of doing things. It is not only how to get better. It’s how to get different.

Given the need for innovation, every business should find ways not only to facilitate, but to stimulate innovation. Prevention is always better than trying to put out fires! When I talk to leaders in organizations, most seem to recognize this need. Yet, many are puzzled by why they are not more successful with innovation. When I talk to couples in distress, they know they should do something different, but have a hard time being successful with new ways to relate.

Take for example texting. Instead of using texting in innovative ways for increasing joy and love in committed relationships–like for flirting, sharing a laugh about something you saw online, sharing a private joke, enhancing your connection–couples tend to try to take old conflicts to a new medium, and that doesn’t work. That’s not innovation. That’s just trying dress the same old conflict in a new dress.

There are many commonly recognized barriers for innovation: financial issues, lack of collaboration, low creativity, and others. But there is one huge barrier that, if taken down, could make the biggest difference for successful innovation. Do you know what it is?

According to Brené Brown, lack of vulnerability is the biggest barrier to innovation.

That’s it!

It’s not lack of money.

It’s not lack of creativity.

It’s not lack of talent.

It’s not lack of initiative.

It’s lack of vulnerability

You see, creativity and innovation can’t flourish if people are afraid of failure, are made to feel ashamed if they make a mistake, or feel they have to turn out perfect work every time. Also, in relationships, love can’t flourish unless you are willing to be vulnerable. And vulnerability requires the highest amount of courage.

If you want to help your organization take the lead on innovation, you have to destroy that barrier. If you want to have a connected love life, you have to destroy that barrier. You can do it with three simple actions:

1.       Dare to be vulnerable yourself and encourage vulnerability in others. Here is the thing, if you can’t have the courage to be vulnerable, nobody else will.

2.       Promote greater curiosity and flexibility. Sure, being curious means you can’t be certain of the outcome. It can also take more time and be a “messy” process. It asks a lot of questions and has few answers. But it’s the only path to innovation and to love.

3.       Inspire, coach, and give incentives to your teams and your family for having the courage to be vulnerable. Good questions to reflect upon can be: “What did we set out to do, what happened, what did we learn, and how fast can we improve on it?

Think about how you could incorporate these things in your daily family life and in the daily life of your organization. Remove certainty, encourage vulnerability, and allow innovation to happen!

Remember that creativity and innovation are not the exclusive domain of the brilliant mad scientist. They’re for all! It can be as simple as copy, transform, and combine. It is as accessible as rearranging your kids’ Legos into endless possible new creations. 

An example of innovation from the relationship arena:

I’m sure you have notice the popularity of monthly subscriptions to physical products delivered to the front door (like food for a specific diet). Couples like to have dating experiences that are fun, different, and worthy of posting on Instagram or Facebook. If you combined those two simple trends you could decide to take turns creating each week a date night box. Each member of the couple could find a creative new date idea and delivered it to their bedroom door on the morning of their weekly date. (This is a variation of a program that is actually available, ready made for couples:

Innovation in areas like technology can be cool. Innovation in marriage will keep your relationship fresh. Innovation in your personal life will keep you energized and help you flourish.

Dare to be vulnerable!

Share your thoughts

How can you help your organization tear down the fear of vulnerability barrier to innovation? What do you do to foster innovative thinking? How do you and your partner encourage vulnerability and a creative open mind in each other? Leave your answers in the Comments area below, and let’s get a conversation going.

Ada GonzalezComment