‘Grace’ is needed to cultivate innovation

In the latest Innovation Panel Interview, the topic of how to handle failures gets some special attention. In the course of the conversation, the innovation panelists bring up a topic I didn't expect to see there: grace.

In the latest Innovation Panel Interview, the topic of how to handle failures gets some special attention. In the course of the conversation, the innovation panelists bring up a topic I didn’t expect to see there: grace.

Grace, as in failures and failed ideas being forgiven and forgotten, as long as the attempt was in support of the team’s or organization’s stated misson. This concept of grace is only mentioned briefly, but I sense that it is profoundly important in nurturing innovation.

Why? Because most people are afraid of promoting and implementing their best idea, for fear that it may cost them the next promotion, or the respect of their boss and peers, or even their job. Everyone knows someone who “rocked the boat” and suffered as a result. So people don’t speak up – they keep their ideas to themselves, or leave the company to pursue their idea on their own, or in another firm that has a more supportive (and forgiving) environment.

Cultivating a culture that celebrates not only victories, but also the teachable lessons of failure (which are sometimes more valuable!) makes it “safe” for people to share their best ideas. 

In this new interview, several innovation panelists share ways in which their firms encourage the sharing of failures, including something called a “learning party.” Read the full interview for more details on these techniques.

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