When was the last time you did something for the first time?
More than ever before, companies are being challenged to come up with new ideas – regarding products, services, projects, leadership, and processes – and use these innovations to maintain their competitive advantage. For this they need people from all organizational levels who are able to find new ways to create and think outside the box. This, at least, is our common understanding, this is how it should be. Why then, does reality often look so different? Why are so few of us inclined to think outside the box? There are several reasons that come to mind.
First of all, leaving a familiar environment includes risks, hence most of us prefer to play it safe and stick with what we know. Second, we like to surround ourselves with people who share our beliefs, thus reaffirming our way of thinking. This way we build a comfort zone that – despite its psychological merits – is not conducive to the disruptions and divergence of opinions needed for innovative actions and ideas. In short, we can stimulate and encourage innovations only if we ourselves are able to pursue new ways to create and think outside the box. Only after we have learned to do this will we be entitled to demand the same from our people and teams.