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3 Tips for Leading Innovation

leadership, neuroscience, neuroscience in businessI know that as a leader you’ve noticed how people tend to fall in with the opinions of the herd. That’s not always a good thing. It happens because we  instinctively programmed to conform to group opinion!  That surely explains a lot, now doesn’t it?

The thing is, if we’re always following the lead and opinions of others, whether it’s within our team or within our industry, it’s difficult to step out and into innovation. If we’re following the competition, by definition we cannot be in the lead position!

3 Tips for Leading Innovation

We can and will get far more innovative and powerful results when we lead our teams away from the herd and into individual thinking.

First, we need to be aware of the power of the conformity instinct and our status quo approaches to focusing on the opinions and actions of others. When we encounter these behaviors or beliefs that are counter productive to our business, we can act to shift them toward more productive approaches.  How?

  • Nothing shifts a team like a leader shifting their own behaviors and thinking. You can leverage the herd instinct to mimic your new and positive behavior. Leaders can become role models to show our teams that it’s a good thing to step away from the crowd and demonstrate individuality in thinking and actions.  We can play the devil’s advocate to the herd opinion, shift our own behavior away from the herd and into new and innovative thinking and actions. For example, instead of running that next brainstorming meeting in the same old way, bring in new folks, start with a blank whiteboard and don’t allow any “knowns” from your current thinking to be written there. Focus on shifting everything about your approach to innovation and watch your teams follow your lead.

 The message: It’s good to step away from the herd and into your own individual thinking and to new ways of doing things. 

  • We can visibly reward the members of our team who step away from the herd. Whenever someone shares a new idea, a novel approach or a brainstorm,  be sure to reward that individuality. It doesn’t mean the idea has to be great – you’re rewarding the behavior of thinking or acting in an innovative way. For example, let’s say one of your team members comes up with an off the wall idea for a new product feature. Even if the feature isn’t exactly what your buyers want, reward the thinking. The rest of the team will get the idea soon enough and more innovative ideas will begin to flow.

The message: It’s a good thing to come up with new approaches and ideas. 

  • We can also break up the conformity drive by creating subgroups of the herd, mixing and matching small teams then tasking them to develop new approaches or ideas.  When you dynamically mix and match teams, you interrupt the opportunity to “herd up.”  Take it another step and toss in new ideas and goals to each of these teams to continuously “shake them up.” For example, task one of these teams to seek new ideas from outside your industry. Task another to go chat with customers in corner case markets -you know, those applications for your products you just plain don’t understand? Get another team to go look for off the all ideas to promote your products in new ways.  These fresh perspectives will create the foundation for your next big innovation.

The message: The status quo isn’t the goal, nor is it safe. Go beyond the known to find your new ideas.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes conformity is a good thing. For example,  when we want to create a cohesive team it can be a powerful supportive tool. At other times conformity just plain gets in the way of innovation and progress.

The key is to interject  mind  and behavioral shifts toward the innovation and new approaches we need to be successful. As leaders we have the tools to do just that.  It’s all in our minds.


Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and ddpavumba


The post 3 Tips for Leading Innovation appeared first on Rebel Brown.

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Rebel Brown guides organizations and individuals to harness the power of their minds to step into their ultimate potential. A masterful agent of change, for over 25 years Rebel Brown has inspired, coached and empowered individuals and businesses to unstoppable performance and results. As a recognized market strategist and turnaround expert, Rebel guided over 200 global organizations to step beyond their status quo perspectives to create profitable market advantage. She also worked with US and European venture firms to successfully fund and launch their portfolios. She also ran a consulting practice in Paris for three years, working with European clients. Fascinated by the power of our human minds to limit ourselves and our business results, she began her study of neural science. Her core question was simple. What could we do if we had no limits? Today, she brings the power of neuroscience to business (NeuroBusiness),fueling limitless thinking that drives powerful bottom line growth for her executive and corporate clients. Rebel’s work has been featured in media including First Business TV, Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and Business Week. She is a Vistage International speaker and workshop leader as well as NSA speaker. She’s also been named one of the Top 100 Women in Computing. Rebel is also the founder and director of the Unstoppable U Foundation, a non-profit program committed to guiding kids to know that they are born to be Unstoppable!

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