Sunday, May 12, 2019

Innovators have a Bias for Action

This post is in continuation to my post on 'My Talk on Innovation'. As i promised, i am double-clicking on some aspects that i shared in my talk to awesome internship batch at my organization.

IPL season is on (ok, about to finish today as i write this). Of the many memorable sporting actions, one was narrated in quite a modest manner in this post. Shane Watson is a veteran opener of one of the most successful teams in the franchise, CSK. He went through a lean patch and couldn't score runs good enough to give his side a decent start. He experienced failure after failure in consecutive matches. MS Dhoni, the most successful captain, persisted with Watson and didn't drop him from the team. Watson eventually paid forward and scored a massive 96 runs in team's victory at the league stage and later 50+ in a crucial semi-finals match. During the phase Watson was struggling but Dhoni chose to show faith in Watson. As the author of post, Inder Kumar R sums up:

The biggest lesson for us as leaders is sometimes, no action is a powerful action'

I had read and heard (audiobook!) Prakash Iyer's classic 'The Habit of Winning' many times . Some of the stories that Prakash narrates, just stays in your mind. One such story was that of a study done
by scholars from Israel where they studied 250+ penalty kicks. The intend behind this study was to assess the best chances for goal keepers to stop the penalty. What the scholars found out after plotting goalkeepers movements was a revelation. The best chance of saving a penalty, as the scholars found out, was when the goalkeeper simply stays still and do not commit to dive in any direction. So why do goalkeepers still commit to a dive ? Because if they don't then they would they would have to deal with barrage of criticism, dealing with questions like 'he didn't even try', 'that was so simple', 'why did he stand still'. 

As we saw in both these examples, 'Bias for action', though is an essential trait for the leaders but at the same time knowing when not to act is equally important. Not all situations demand us to really commit to an action. 

The story, however, is a bit different when it comes to Innovators. Innovators, by default, should have a strong bias for action especially in the early stages of innovation cycles. More an innovator tries, accepts and rejects ideas, the high odds are to succeed. Taking about Innovation in the context of organizations, the employees that succeed eventually are the ones that choose to participate in hackathons and other innovation showcase opportunities than the ones that don't choose to act.

Innovators should have a strong bias for action. Do you agree ? Do you disagree ?

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