Why innovation workshops don’t generate innovative ideas

by | Aug 13, 2021 | Blog, Tips

What do you know about psychological safety? It’s a concept that describes a shared sense of belonging, acceptance, respect and the belief of the group that it’s a safe space for interpersonal risk taking.
Psychological safety drives inclusion, diversity, contribution and learning, all ingredients of innovation. Members of the group are not worried about what others are thinking, or how they will respond to ideas.
Conflict is productive, and open. More new ideas are put forward. There is a focus on achieving shared goals. Accountability goes up. People are creating more value.

There are 4 stages to building psychological safety:

  1. People feel included
  2. There is an environment where it is safe to grow and learn, and we can start to experiment with risk
  3. Contributing safety, people can fully speak without fear
  4. We hit challenger safety – you can proactively challenge status quo without risk to personal reputation, fear etc. This is where you can innovate

But so often, we’re chucked into a meeting room, with 10 other people (who we might not even have met before) for a “cross functional innovation workshop” or a “client/provider ideation session”. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of having organised these! In that room, we’re probably only at a level 1 in terms of psychological safety, maybe a 2.
We’re never going to get to level 4, and generating truly innovative ideas, in a two hour session. Building connection, candour and appreciation within and between teams will grow psychological safety, and might just reveal your best idea yet.