3 Ways To Become A Creative And Innovative Leader


“Chance favors the connected mind.”—Steven Johnson

We tend to think that great ideas are the result of grand epiphanies or “a-ha” moments.  Not so, according to this TED talk by author Steven Johnson called, “Where Good Ideas Come From”.  The video is about seventeen minutes long and, in my opinion, very engaging.  I know we’re all looking for ways to get better in order to be the best we can be for our teams and I think this video is packed with great ideas for us.  You surely should go and check out the video, but just to whet your appetite, I’ve written about three ways we can apply his ideas to our coaching lives.

Do these three things to watch your ideas go from good to great

1.      Stay away from Negative Nelsons/Nellies. Gotta love ‘em…those negative influences in your life.  They’re the folks that pull out their rifle and shoot down all of your great ideas before you can complete your sentence.  They may be awesome people and they may not mean any harm…they may actually be very valuable in some other facet of your life. But when it comes to cultivating new ideas?  They shouldn’t be your first stop because they’ll have ten reasons why your idea won’t work and will wonder aloud why you’re even trying.

2.      Surround yourself with colleagues.  Johnson says that great ideas come from our network of past experiences, we “stitch them together”, and voila…innovation!  A lot of times, we think we’ve got to get in a room, shut the door, and be by ourselves so that we can think.  Johnson’s research says just the opposite.  He says that our history is full of great ideas that got their beginning in a bar or coffee house with a bunch of folks sitting around throwing ideas off of each other.  What does that mean for us?  It means that when we go to a professional development event, we should talk to people, see what they’re thinking…they may spark an idea within us.  Or do a pop-in on one of your coworkers to bounce ideas around.  I love the way Johnson puts it because I see that as the role of this blog: connecting vs. protecting ideas.  Sure, by protecting your idea, no one else may know it; but by not connecting, you’ll never know how great your idea could’ve been.

3.      Trust your gut. Like I said before, most good ideas don’t come from “eureka” moments, but from an idea you had that was allowed to grow.  Johnson calls these “slow hunches”. You’ve got an idea, and you’ve been kicking it around in your head, but you’re not sure it’ll work…that’s a slow hunch.  We’ve got to get intentional about connecting with our colleagues and having these amazing brainstorming sessions that lead to innovative ideas.  There are some cutting edge companies that build this type of atmosphere right into their framework, allowing their employees to take innovation work breaks.  They let those employees receive eighty percent of their salary and their only job is to think and bounce ideas off of each other….that’s how big this is!  These companies know that sharing ideas, even mistakes, will eventually turn your slow hunch into the next big thing.

I loved this talk!  I hope you had a chance to sit down and listen to it, I believe it can change the way we think about how we approach coaching.

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