The No. 1 Enemy of Creativity: Fear of Failure
by Peter Sims | 9:00 AM October 5, 2012
This is GREAT and sums up what must change in the corporate world to sustain innovation driven growth!!
For me, the most important insight from design thinking was that you have to make sure you've defined the right problem before you try to solve it. So, you act like an anthropologist to understand human needs and problems before jumping to solutions. Most of us in business, if we need to discover how to do something new, use PowerPoint or Excel spreadsheets to rationalize our approach. This is what I call "the illusion of rationality." Whether motivated by a lack of insight arrogance, or stupidity, the illusion of rationality is a waste of time and resources — yet one that keeps a lot of people employed in management consulting, as I learned first hand.
Instead, if you don't have the data, you have to create the data. That does not mean plugging random numbers into your spreadsheet. It means generating real insight, from nothing. Designers and bootstrapped entrepreneurs I've worked with use rapid low cost experiments to create data. I refer to these "affordable losses" in the interest of learning, creativity, and discovery as "little bets."
This seems like common sense; so why is it so hard? Three words: fear of failure.
If you're an MBA-trained manager or executive, the odds are you were never, at any point in your educational or professional career given permission to fail, even on a "little bet." Your parents wanted you to achieve, achieve, achieve — in sports, the classroom, and scouting or work. Your teachers penalized you for having the "wrong" answers, or knocked your grades down if you were imperfect, according to however your adult figures defined perfection. Similarly, modern industrial management is still predicated largely on mitigating risks and preventing errors, not innovating or inventing.
But entrepreneurs and designers think of failure the way most people think of learning.
Darden Professor Saras Sarasvathy has shown through her research about how expert entrepreneurs make decisions, they must make lots of mistakes to discover new approaches, opportunities, or business models