Turn Naysayers into Innovators

Ed Harrington

Individual and collective negativity can derail new product ideas and innovations before they ever have a chance. Here are three useful practices to overcome our inherent bias against the unknown, and to give adept thinking a seat at the strategic planning table.

Finding new product ideas and innovations to excite customers requires colossal creative effort and a certain comfort level with risk-taking. The considerable effort to take a product from idea to development to launch is both time and energy intensive. If it also demands dealing with naysayers at the table who poke holes in every idea expressed along the way, valuable momentum is lost.

It's important to acknowledge that we all have an inherent bias against venturing into unknown territory. We're descendants of risk adverse ancestors whose self-preservation instincts served them well in a time when potential danger lurked behind every boulder or bush. But in today's world where innovation rules the day, our survival necessitates overcoming these ingrained behavioral biases that hinder new ideas and stifle creative solutions.

Take for example Negativity Bias: We're conditioned to allow negative impressions to form more quickly than positive ones. A seminal study has proven that, in our minds, bad is stronger than good — negative information, experiences, and even negative people …

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"No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be altogether irreclaimably bad."

- Thomas Carlyle

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