Three Practical Ways to Turn Naysayers into Innovators
Finding new product ideas and innovations to excite customers requires colossal creative effort and a certain comfort level with risk-taking. The considerable effort to take a product from idea to development to launch is both time and energy intensive. If it also demands dealing with naysayers at the table who poke holes in every idea expressed along the way, valuable momentum is lost. It’s important to acknowledge that we all have an inherent bias against venturing into unknown territory. We’re descendants of risk averse ancestors whose self-preservation instincts served them well in a time when potential danger lurked behind every boulder or bush. But in today’s world where innovation rules the day, our survival necessitates overcoming these ingrained behavioral biases that hinder new ideas and stifle creative solutions. Take for example Negativity Bias: We’re conditioned to allow negative impressions to form more quickly than positive ones. A seminal study has proven that, in our minds, bad is stronger than good — negative information, experiences, and even negative people have a stronger effect on us than positive ones. When Negativity Bias joins us at the table, it can stymie even the most adept thinking — like trying to run with lead shoes. Negativity Bias often keeps us from voicing creative ideas for fear of being thought foolish, impractical, or just plain odd. Yet, early in the innovation process, ideas should be golden nuggets that expand our thinking and promote discovery. When we err on the side of caution and believe that early-stage ideas need to be fully formed and complete, we automatically lapse into judgment mode instead of discovery mode. To preempt this natural tendency, each member of the group needs to set out in the spirit of contributing half-baked, even impractical ideas, just to see where they might lead.
Ed Harrington is CEO and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies to incorporate the voice of the consumer in ideation and concept development. He co-authored the book, "Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation Approach Drives Your Company Forward."