Volatile, rapidly changing, unpredictable... these are just a few of the word trends we've seen throughout this year, attempting to describe the current business economy. The fact that we are entering a new revolution in leadership and business structure is no secret. So the question, the gray area, the piece of the puzzle everyone is frantically searching for is where this revolution will take us.
Why Is It So Important to Know?
One of the most important functions of our brain is predicting. In fact, humans spend a large majority of their time predicting. We need to know what to expect from the scenarios, people, opportunities, and events in our lives, so we use all of our past experiences, and try to frame the future. Business and leadership are no different. This is why we've seen such a rise in the interest in neuroscience, as it pertains to business. Leaders, in a volatile economy, are attempting to predict the future... but there's a problem.
Exponentiality Is the Learning Curve
The change we are seeing now is more rapid, more exponential, than anything we've ever seen before, and this level of disruption is seemingly impossible to predict. Leaders and entrepreneurs have to figure out how to stabilize their leadership if they want to survive, and Dr. Sunnie GIles, owner of the Quantum Leadership Group, and author of the new book The New Science of Radical Innovation, believes she can lend to this stabilization.
Change Is No Longer Incremental
It makes sense, as we see this possibility of exponentiality, to also realize that we must meet that change with our own radical change. It also makes sense that, rather than attempting to control that change, our best bet stands in creating a foundation that can withstand the change and flow with it. Because leaders and entrepreneurs are faced with much bigger obstacles, in a way, their minds must be prepared to create bigger shifts, and consume bigger concepts, something Dr. Giles calls radical innovation.
Three Ways Leaders Can Facilitate Radical Innovation
The foundation of Dr. Giles' book is a 3-step process in which leaders can begin to stabilize an environment and culture that allows radical innovation to happen.
Provide safety. When we don't feel safe, it is impossible to thrive. When stress is obvious and constant, our amygdala won't even allow us to 'let go' and innovate because we self-censor when we don't feel safe. When leaders or employees feel safe, they can take risks without feeling fear or threatened.
Allow connections. When we feel safe, we connect emotionally, to others, to our environment, and to the possibilities of radical innovation.
Facilitate learning. Failure is a big part of the learning process. Environments and cultures that allow the entire learning process to happen, are often hotbeds of radical innovation because there are iterations constantly taking place, where the creator is deeply involved in rapidly growing their idea into something radical.
"We are now in the world of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), which requires speed, decentralization, flexibility, and learning from trial and error, which prepares leaders to catalyze radical innovation."
What is the Foundation for Radical Innovation?
Digging down, even deeper than the three-step process, there is a foundation that allows the three-step process to thrive and I feel it's important to share that as well. The thing about this process, or innovation, or radical innovation, is that in order for any of it to work or exist there needs to be self-awareness. At the individual level, the most important thing, to any system or approach, is self-awareness. Without this foundation, nothing works consistently or long-term. Self-awareness of each person is the stabilization of the process mentioned above, and the foundation for true radical innovation.
Why Neuroscience Alone Isn't Enough
According to the WSJ, companies spend $2.6 billion annually on leadership training, yet ninety percent of the benefits are lost within a year. The reason the development isn't sticking is simple: the foundation isn't there for the knowledge to take root. If you are thinking about growth and development in the new year, consider starting at your roots, to make sure your time is well spent, and your innovation is radical.