Canadian Lawyer InHouse

April/May 2020

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 40 of 43 39 tomers say and do and seek to understand what deeply matters to them will find the most valuable problems to solve – and, in doing so, will create more meaningful solu- tions for customers. By creating such an environment of curiosity, leaders can inspire employees to ask questions, to learn, and to seek problems and solutions. Employees are more open to discovering new things, leading to richer insights and platforms for prob- lem-finding – and, ultimately, innovation. Here are five questions leaders can encourage their employees to ask regularly: Why? How might we? What if? Why not? What did you learn? Creative thinking Creativity is critical for breakthrough thinking and innovation, and scientific research has shown that creativity can be cultivated. The more leaders approach challenges flexibly and imaginatively, the easier it will become to gener- ate original ideas. Research has suggested that people who are good at creative thinking are also good at seeing connections and generating more orig- inal ideas. By training our leaders' abilities to see connections, we can boost their ability to think creatively. Thinking of alternative uses for an object is a simple activity to train leaders' minds to make new connections and, in turn, boost their creative thinking. This exercises your mind by stretching beyond the obvious uses to imagine an object outside of its usual context. Pick a random object, such as a paper clip. Now take precisely three minutes to write down as many alternative uses as you can. Challenge yourself to come up with more than 20 ideas in three minutes. Being brave Most of us spend 99% of our workday playing it safe, following the rules, processes and protocols. Structure and order are there for a reason, but any deviation from the norm can be viewed as negative, risky or dangerous to the integrity of the organization. Imagine you're in a leadership meeting and hold a strong view on which ideas should be prioritized based on the rigorous customer-led process your team has been through to develop and prioritize the ideas, completely disagreeing with what has been decided. Yet you sit there and nod your head in agreement. In most cases, conformity is the norm. Leaders don't choose to agree with others because their perception has altered – they go along with it because they don't want to stand out. Many leaders fear failure, being wrong, looking silly or feeling embarrassed at work. This happens often and is costly to innovation efforts. Leaders need to embrace risk-taking, challenge the status quo, and bravely speak up and dissent. Are you ready for innovation to thrive in your organization? These four leadership skills should be practiced and mastered alongside a robust innovation process to enhance your innovation efforts. Consider incorporating them into leaders' job descriptions and KPIs to encourage and reward such behaviours. And keep in mind that these are not one-off activities – to get skilled, they require repeated effort and discipline. 3 4 Evette Cordy is an innovation expert, registered psychologist and the chief investigator and co-founder at Agents of Spring. She uses curiosity and creativity to help organizations create human-centred products and services and facilitate new ways of thinking. She is also the author of Cultivating Curiosity: How to Unearth Your Most Valuable Problem to Inspire Growth. For more information, visit

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