Susan looked down, her face long in frustration.
“You look at creative ideas,” I said. “I look at context. I have to acknowledge your frustration at the lack of progress in your journey of innovation. Let me re-frame my observations with a forward looking question. In what way can we create the conditions where creative ideas can be constructed, tested and adopted?”
“I am not sure where you are going with this,” Susan responded.
“Let’s assume your creative ideas have merit. What conditions exist in your company that resist the construction, testing and adoption of new ideas?”
“Now, that’s an easy question to answer,” Susan chuckled through her frustration. “There is a long list –
- We already tried that before and it didn’t work?
- It’s too expensive.
- It will take too long.
- The last person with an idea like that got fired.
- We are headed in exactly the opposite direction and we have too much sunk costs to change direction now, even though what we are doing isn’t working.
“Nice list,” I smiled. “It’s always easy to answer the negative, now let’s answer the positive. In what way can we create the conditions where creative ideas can be constructed, tested and adopted?”