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Are You Prioritizing Constructively Receiving Innovation as Much as Generating It?

Updated: Mar 29

When was the last time you or your organization purposefully had a discussion about how you "receive" innovation?


The most likely answer is "never." Most people or organizations only spend time and money generating innovation. Few spend time discussing or agreeing on how the organization will constructively receive said innovation.


Applied Emotional Intelligence Social Media Series about Receiving Innovation
Applied Emotional Intelligence Social Media Series from The Nexus Initiative

What Does Emotional Intelligence Have to Do With Innovation?


The act of creating something new, of disclosing a new idea, sharing a social media post (.. ahem...), writing a new song, wrting a book, sharing a new approach is in incredibly vulnerable act. It's putting something out there that has never been out there.


Doing so makes it an "act of exposure" that sets you up for immediate praise, indifference, ridicule, or rejection.


The first reaction feels really good, but the latter three can be very painful, so much so that you may never want to innovate anything new again - especially if nobody says anything, or worse, puts your idea down.


An element of Emotional Intelligence is called Psychological Safety, and embracing it strikes at the heart of constructively "receiving" innovation in your organization.


Here's the deal.


Ensuring employees feel comfortable expressing ideas and taking risks without fear of punishment or ridicule - is crucial for fostering innovation in organizations.  Make it safe by protecting the people willing to innovate, willing to take the risks of sharing a part of themselves, and willing to be brave.


Think about it.


If you spent mental capital creating a new idea, and your organization dismissed it without appreciation, didn't take it seriously, or even worse, ridiculed it, would you want to continue to innovate or come up with new ideas? Or, would you just start to forget it and say to yourself, "It's not worth the risk."


Smart organizations spend significantly on innovation and are therefore even smarter to spend money on how their organizations constructively receive those innovations. It even begs the question of "why wouldn't you work on 'receiving innovation' if you are going to spend significant money on generating innovation?


The goal is a culture where there is little to no psychological risk in generating, sharing, or iterating new ideas.


You are wise to build it into your organization.


Here are Ten+1 strategies to apply this principle in your organization.


Ten Strategies to Constructively Receive Innovation In Your Organization


  1. All Ideas Are Given Equal "Initial" Opportunity. Let's face it: not all ideas are good ones, but we don't want to discourage the surfacing of any idea because ideas build on each other. Giving all ideas equal "initial" opportunity supports the value of idea generation and recognizes this reality.

  2. No negative behaviors: This includes making fun, ridiculing, and labeling something ridiculous. Remember, the idea is to create a safe psychological space for ideas to blossom.

  3. The agreement that not all ideas are workable in their current form, or, perhaps, in any form. Because there is an environment of "constructive receipt" of ideas, everyone needs to know that their idea may not be used now or even ever. This reality is part of the deal.

  4. Reward innovation efforts. Recognize and reward employees who take risks, share ideas, and contribute to innovation, even if the outcome isn't perfect.

  5. Normalize iteration: Encourage employees to build upon and refine ideas rather than seek flawless solutions.

  6. Create a culture of curiosity: Encourage asking questions, exploring new possibilities, and challenging assumptions.

  7. Develop psychological safety training: Invest in training programs that help employees understand psychological safety and its importance.

  8. Shift the Mindset: Instead of judging every idea on its feasibility from the outset, approach it with curiosity and interest in its potential. Ask, "What are the possible benefits?" and "How could this evolve into something valuable?"

  9. Identify the Core Value: Don't initially get bogged down in minor details or feasibility concerns. Understand the innovation's core value proposition and why it might be worth exploring.

  10. Explore Variations: Brainstorm modifications and adaptations that could address potential concerns or enhance the core idea. Encourage iterative exploration and improvement.

  11. BONUS STRATEGY: Every new innovation gets first met with an acknowledgment of the risk taken and appreciation for the willingness to "step into the arena." It's a TOTAL act of courage. Say. It. Out. Loud. And. Publicly. Why? Because sometimes, the act of silence can be emotionally painful. Did they see it? Do they care? Why aren't they saying anything? Acknowledging the idea, even if it's not a good one, eliminates the emotional pain of "just silence."






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