What do I mean by Experimenting?
The fourth of my eight Change Capability dimensions, Experimenting is when the exploration and development of new ideas is positively encouraged and it is safe to take risks to find creative or radical solutions to problems.
Unlike Challenging, which is very much about critical thinking and questioning the status quo, this is about creating space and opportunity for ideas to flourish. It’s important that, to some degree, the critical and questioning mindset is suspended and people are able to stick their head above the parapet without fear of being shot at, in order to be creative.
How is this Change Capability manifested?
People that are involved in the implementation of change:
- Have a degree of breathing space to explore new ideas and approaches
- Are comfortable taking others into ‘uncharted waters’ to find creative solutions
- Are willing to stick their neck out and take risks to champion ideas
People that are impacted by the change:
- Are comfortable articulating unusual or unconventional ideas
- Are excited by the prospect of trying out new ideas, going into new areas
- Are willing to take sensible business risks to allow new ideas to develop
How is the capability supported?
As with all of the capability dimensions, this is not an exhaustive list but Experimenting is supported by:
- Psychological safety: Creativity is too often stifled by fear of criticism, intolerance of mistakes and rigid views of working e.g. productivity = being at your desk and value = input (vs output).
- Facilitation: Creating a temporary environment for individual and collective ‘creative problem solving’ requires appropriate skills, but leaders must value time spent in the process
- Investment: If ideas and creativity are genuinely valued, leaders must be prepared to commit resource to it, from attendance at appropriate workshops to investing in ‘hothousing’ ideas
What happens if you overplay this strength?
Without balance, strengths can become weaknesses. Over-focusing on Experimenting can occur in two ways:
- Freestyling: ‘Anything goes’ to the point where ideas are explored that are too far outside the parameters of usefulness to the business / unable to ‘fit in’ with the business as a whole
- Fooling (around): Breaking rules or conventions becomes a game in itself and the connection with the overall purpose is lost, descending into silliness
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