Kyle Hermans, Synecticsworld

Kyle Hermans

By Kyle Hermans

In my years of facilitating people, teams, and organizations around the world to new breakthroughs, I have learned that creativity is often born out of fear, or fueled by something that may appear fearful, a change driver that pushes our clients out of the safety of the operational world of certainty and routine into the experimental, messy, uncertain world of innovation.

One of the most common answers I have heard when asking people, “what are you fearful of?”  is  “the unknown!”   To create something new, by definition, means we have to travel into the unknown.  And truly breakthrough innovation comes from fully heading into an unknown territory and with the courage to take on something that is new for you.

“Innovation is creativity that ships.” – Steve Jobs

The acronym and reframe I often share with clients when they are facing fear in their quest for breakthroughs is: F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real.

We put past filters onto our new opportunities before they have even had the chance to be explored and developed.  We project negative, unsuccessful or confrontational situations we have experienced before into our new project and this False Evidence can often prevent us from exploring further.  It takes a lot of creative courage to go forward, to take that step, to trust, to jump off that cliff … into the unknown.

“Another word for creativity is courage.” – George Prince, Co-Founder of Synectics

There is a simple and powerful Synectics tool called the “Open Minded Response” to evolve an uncertain idea into a conceivable reality of new fresh thinking.  Knowing that this tool is ahead of your creative exploration can remove some of the uncertainty that is driving fear.

Innovation model, scrum, invention, brainstorming, new product development, leadership, change, agileThe 5 Step Open Minded Response.

1. Paraphrase or restate the idea and get an image of it working.

2. List plusses, as many as you can, that identify the pieces and parts of the idea that are helpful, useful, and beneficial in resolving the task.  For example, “what i like about that ideas is…”

3. List concerns and the drawbacks of the idea by identifying what’s stopping you from implementing it, and use “invitational,” “how-to” language to invite continued development.  For example, “how to… make it work internationally.”

4. Resolve concerns, one at a time, in order of importance.

5. Modify the idea to incorporate the thinking that overcame your concerns and headline it as a Possible Solution ready for Next Steps.

I recommend that you use the Open Minded Response steps to courageously create and push your innovation portfolio to new territories to gain competitive advantage .

A creatively courageous organization starts with a courageous leader who models the behavior in which creative, courageous decisions and actions flourish: An openness to hear, see, and explore new thinking that your organizations have to offer, especially if it goes beyond the rational and operational.

What will you create next?

Create.  Change.


Kyle Hermans is the Senior Director of Innovation Capacity of Gap Inc. Global, and former head of Synecticsworld’s West Coast office. 

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