“Fear factor: Overcoming human barriers to innovation”

Originally posted in our July 2022 Top of Mind Newsletter.

How can we influence ourselves and others to overcome the most basic human barrier; fear? Fear is indeed the biggest barrier to innovation, with good reason. Innovation is by definition associated with ambiguity; even with a well-defined goal, innovators simply cannot know all outcomes of their efforts. So, as we close this month’s Top of Mind, let us reflect on how we are preparing our society to be more innovative and entrepreneurial.

One step in this process is creating conditions for us to practice the skills associated with innovation early. Learning from failure and critical thinking, these sorts of things are necessary. And what’s more, prioritizing these skills and conditions can help create a space where people feel safer engaging in innovative behavior. While you might start an innovative initiative feeling like you are in the driver’s seat, it becomes quickly apparent that you do not control the situation. This feeling of a lack of control is one of the most anxiety-inducing sensations. But it can therefore be a source of great learning, too.

This piece from McKinsey is full of sources of fear but also outlines the fundamentals of an innovative culture. As we at ELI are fond of saying, culture is a collective mindset. So if you want to be more innovative in your own life, see how these fundamentals can apply to yourself, too.

What are you afraid of?