Unleashing Original Thinking

To build a culture of innovation and original thinking, leaders should build a culture of psychological safety, encouraging those who are good at detecting problems to speak up even if they don’t have solutions to these problems.

Organizations adopting a “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” mentality, will never hear about real problems that may be too complex to be solved by one person alone.

This is an excerpt from the WOBI on Personal Leadership and Organizational Culture Executive Summary.

Pioneering organizational psychologist and one of the world’s most influential
business thought leaders, Adam Grant suggests organizations flip the idea of the “suggestion box” and come up with a “problems box” – raising awareness over problems no matter how big or small. This can influence creative and innovative ideas.

Creativity and Innovation often begins when leaders share a little more about what it is they’re trying to change or get better at so that their teams can address problems they recognize. Organizations should develop a system that allows for transparency, which can often be overlooked in group settings. Adam identifies three challenges organizations face during group meetings:

  1. Production Blocking: Can’t all talk at once resulting in some ideas being lost.
  2. Ego Threat: Don’t want to look stupid, so I’ll keep quiet.
  3. Conformity: Too much convergent thinking, not enough divergent thinking.

Organizations should shift from brainstorming to brainwriting. Give your people the topic or prompt in advance and let them work independently to generate ideas on their own. Then, collect those ideas and evaluate and refine them as a team to further improve on those ideas. When leaders and managers judge ideas they choose to play safe. They compare new ideas to old ideas. You want the people outside your core domain, those who have a wide angle lens and who find reasons to say yes instead of staying no. Make yourself open to new ideas as a leader, spend five minutes brainstorming about your own ideas, or approach creative peers who are thrilled to look for reasons to say this idea is different, let’s give it a try. The more possibilities you’re testing, the more chance you’ll have at stumbling at something more original and impactful.

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Adam Grant

Adam Grant

An organizational psychologist and Wharton’s top-rated professor, Adam Grant is a deeply original thinker and one of today’s most influential business advisors. Researching motivation and meaningful work, he has constructed pioneering studies on workplace dynamics, formulating unique ideas that are backed by data-driven management science and case studies. His highly rational approach is valued by organizations who want help figuring out whom to hire, how to keep employees motivated, and how to build a healthy workplace culture. Grant’s insights have been developed into a quartet of blockbuster books: Give and Take, Originals, Option B and Power Moves. His latest book, THINK AGAIN: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, was released in early 2021.

Learn more about Adam at his website, www.giveandtake.com

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