The Danger of Safety
Innovation can messy, unwieldy and packed with setbacks. It’s the imperfect nature of the process that makes creativity in business so challenging. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether you are progressing or regressing.
This can be especially challenging, since the human brain naturally craves order. The human brain has evolved to create order out of chaos. Our desire to organize and categorize is so strong that we’re prone to apophenia – the experience of recognizing patterns in meaningless data.
Even in the face of something as complex and difficult to quantify as creativity, our natural desire is to represent it as a straight line. As far back as 1926 when psychologists first attempted to map out the creative process to modern innovation frameworks, nearly every model starts with discovering a problem and ends with proving your solution is correct.
Whether you’re writing a book, developing a revolutionary business idea, or rebranding your company, there are false starts and dead ends. They are a natural part of the process, but they aren’t captured in a traditional linear mindset of creativity. These false starts and dead ends feel like failure to be avoided at all costs. As a result, thinkers choose safer ideas that are more likely to lead to a “success,” even if it yields a smaller return. In baseball terms, they’re so afraid to strike out, they’ll bunt instead of swinging for the fences.
Let’s talk about how safe thinking is impacting your ability to innovate.
The Imperfect Innovation Process
How do we learn to accept failure as progress? We embrace the imperfection of the creative process and abandon the linear model of creativity. A nonlinear model embraces the natural ebbs and flows of the creative process. Instead of looking at imperfections and refinements as setbacks, a non-linear innovation framework allows thinkers seamlessly move from one phase to another while still moving the business innovation project forward.
As part of my Master’s Thesis at The University of Massachusetts – Boston titled “Think Unbound: Changing the Way People View and Teach Creativity in the Work Environment,” I proposed the adoption of The Clover Model of Creativity. Built on years of research and testing that takes into account the natural ebbs and flows of creativity and embraces the imperfections, the result is a simple, teachable model that reflects the iterative nature of creativity to foster the growth of innovation within organizations.