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Expect Innovation

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People tend to rise or fall to the level of expectations placed upon them. So if you're a leader, and you want more innovation, your first action is simple: expect innovation!

If you're a video person, I lay it all out in the video below. If reading is more your thing, skip the video and hop straight to the transcript below!

Hey everybody, Bill Stainton here with Turning Creativity into Money™, and today I want to talk specifically to those of you who lead teams, and you'd like them to be more innovative. So, how can you do that?

Well, there are a lot of ways, but today I want to tell you just one, one thing, which isn't so much a technique, as it is an attitude shift. And here it is: expect them to be more innovative.

Yeah. Pretty simple, right?

And I was thinking about this, a couple days ago I was doing a podcast. And, when I was talking with the podcast host, at some point, and I don't know why this came up but, the idea that people tend to rise or fall to the level of expectation placed on them. You know what I mean?

Maybe you've heard of the experiment, uh, I don't know where it was done, you you can look it up, but where a group of teachers, uh, at the end of the school year the principal brought some teachers together and said, "You were the best performing teachers this year, and because of that, we've got a special treat for you. Next year, you are going to teach the most advanced gifted students. You get to do that because you are the best teachers."

And so the next year went by. And at the end of that year the principal said, "So how did it go?" to the teachers. And they said, "Oh my goodness, it was so easy! These students, I mean, speak, you know, teaching gifted students, teaching, they, they were, they were interested, they were intelligent, they were inquisitive, uh, they were creative, it was, it was wonderful, it was fabulous!"

And then that's when the principal let them in on a secret and said, "Well, it turns out that those students were drawn at random. They were not the gifted students necessarily. They were just, it was a random selection of students." And the teachers said, "Oh. Well, it must be that, you know, that we were the best teachers."

And that's when the principal dropped the other shoe and said, "Well, you were randomly selected also."

So, you know, kind of a double whammy there, but you see what happened. Because the expectations were raised on both the teachers—they didn't know that—and the students—and the students didn't know that—because the expectations were higher, the results were higher.

So, the same thing will apply to your team. If you expect them to be innovative, expect them to come up with the kind of ideas, create that kind of environment, where, where it's just kind of assumed that they're going to be innovative, they'll start to rise to that expectation.

Now, is that all you have to do? No it's not. And we'll talk about other techniques and strategies and, and, and ways that you can encourage innovation a little later on. But that's the first one. Expect them to be innovative.

People tend to rise or fall to the level of expectation placed on them.

If you expect your team, if you, if you come at your team with the attitude that, "Okay we're, I'm not expecting much from you in the way of innovation, but please, just try," well, what do you think is going to happen? Your results are going to match your attitude, and the attitude that you place on them, the expectation you place on them.

But if you come to them and say, "Hey, folks, we've got a challenge here, and I know you're up to it because you're innovative people, I've seen it before. So let's get our heads together and see, what can we come up with? This will be fun because we've got a really innovative team here!" Now again, there's gonna be more to it involved, but, do you see the difference? Do you see how that changes the context? It changes the context of the workplace.

It also changes your context because when you say that you'll start to believe it. Because you say it, and they'll start to rise to that, to that expectation, and the results will start to show that, and that means you'll believe it more, and you've got this virtuous cycle.

And it all starts with raising your expectations of your team. If you expect them to be innovative, they'll pick up on that, and their innovation will rise.

I'm Bill Stainton. I'll talk to you next time, when I tell you how you can help Turn Your Creativity into Money™.
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About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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