When passion for novelty stirs, why do some develop new talents, while others in the community miss innovation’s mark? The human brain comes equipped to build and sustain innovative cultures that people crave. How then, can more people reap passion’s dividends in today’s workplaces?
1. Kindle and play with novel ideas in committed circles of trust. Teams that consciously cultivate trust, tend to exchange excessive concern for personal gain for a wider reality. Take the iPod, for instance. It started with an innovative idea, and Steve Jobs along with other passionate innovators kindled Apple products that revolutionized communication. Similarly, Fast Company’s awesome design moments unveil original ideas that energized teams rolled into products with possibilities. Passionate communities, such as Apple and Fast Company, differ mentally from typical workplaces, just as brains of genius inventors vary from minds of compacent masses. The brain’s hippocampus releases a shot of dopamine in response to kindling novelty. Anthony Grace at the University of Pittsburgh describes a feedback loop that involves a chemical and electrical interactions between dopamine and novel or unexpected events. This lively process appears to lock in memory, as it also engages the amygdala where the brain processes emotional information that feeds both zeal and novelty.
2. Mimic passionate people by showcasing every manner of talent. Believe it or not, you can literally adopt another person’s innovative talents by observing them. Women possess far more unique offerings than are hailed. Same is true with men’s unique proclivities that fade in circles which continually replay similar success stories, or neglect to nurture novel talents that emerge. It’s also true that while innovation may be more vital than ever at your workplace, individuals who think act and build differently often remain at a premium. That’s where the brain can help out. Imagine the passionate workplaces that take shape as more people imitate winning tactics and go on to generate profitable designs. The process is actually innate in human brainpower as mirror neurons create innovative cultures through mimicking talents around you. Check out this video on mirror neurons to see how people watch and mirror passion cultivated by others. Deep inside your brain cells are neurons that will fire in reaction to another’s beliefs as they roll into activity. See any new opportunities for building communities of passion where you work? How does it play out in an innovator’s actions, and in those who observe the results?
3. Link opposites together and build passion from both sides. Need a breakthrough to top up novelty with passion on a project? Then build a pioneering culture by connecting opposites in ways that few non-innovators think to connect. If you’ve ever benefited from unique insights, you’ve likely also seen opposing viewpoints from high-performance minds, that beg to differ. So why then, let disagreements or opposing views break up shared zeal, terminate ground-breaking projects, or shut down brilliant people? Passion for novelty resists racism or cynicism that ignite flame wars, by taming the amygdala to harness brilliance. Rather than take potshots at people who differ, passionate people consider disagreements as tools to build goodwill across diversity. From the human brain’s perspective – passion for new insights exists at either ends – when neuron pathways lead to innovative solutions. Simply put, when different kinds of thinkers look at problems together – with solutions in mind – passion follows. Designs that change the world come from engaging genius thinkers, in offerings that prosper a wider community.
4. Facilitate a round table to brainstorm a passionate process. Whenever I facilitate round tables of passionate leaders across many fields, with varying levels of development, we come up with ahas that none could have masterminded alone. Have you experienced ideas piggybacked onto others from alternative positions? Senior management share pitfalls to sidestep, novice technicians suggest platforms to stage, and people of all nooks build on passions that surface from hidden and unused corners of many minds. Innovation, whether from arts or science, embodies mysteries to ponder, when facilitators help all to question and wonder about possibilities that surprise groups by joy. It’s that place that bubbles over in any passionate circle where no brain is left behind. It’s where brilliant solutions tend to flow from pools just outside of prevailing thought, and where people risk building beyond limitations. It’s where a culture of original thought hooks difficult facts onto ordinary experiences people live – to stoke more learning in less time, with passion as its engine and innovative designs as results.
5. Collaborate with a passionate people who differ. Passionate teams rarely wait for situations to improve, but fueled with zeal they shape dendrite brain cells daily for mind-bending advances from diverse angles. Interactions within their current communities offer innovation labs to test and progress ideas. Passionate people spark mental growth based more on what they do than on what’s done to them. The opposite is true in toxic workplaces where a climate of creative collaboration gets stomped on, and talent goes ignored. Passionate leaders engage opposing views to discover another design built from different angles, and equipped to lead a multifaceted world. To work together is to listen to new ideas and to engage multiple talents. Innovative partnerships tend to work better when different players share in a common vision, when expectations are clearly defined, by the entire group and when passion is evident in most.
6. Develop and reward talent of more than a few. In too many workplaces problems go unsolved while some of the finest minds are left outside because of the reward process. No judging of value should be anonymous, since hidden motives of judges can kill passionate input of many. Rather than rate people’s efforts – without any accountability – passionate communities ask deep questions to move a work past it’s present position. Simple questions that begin What if…? or Have you thought about …? go a long way toward sustaining trust to build and grow together, that silent ratings in traditional circles mutilate and destroy. In order to bridge the gap between the multiple intelligences people bring to work, and the problems that need solutions, passionate organizations reward people for refreshing new ideas from many angles. As part of that process a survey of unique intelligences would encourage passion for supporting unique talents already up and running. As people at work awaken new intelligences for innovative designs, and offer rewards for passionate teams who engage diverse perspectives, passion begins to fuel further innovation. Refuse the temptation to continually showcase one or two leaders only, based on prior influence, power, money, or positions – and passion stands a chance to blossom across differences.
7. Pose two-footed questions to cultivate passion for solutions. One approach to integrate passionate solutions and improve a firm’s existing practices – is to question current barriers. With one foot confront problems that lead away from passion, and with the other leap toward creative solutions. Start with stubborn problems such as why do talented people simply give up or leave, then toss in a two-footed question that probes the solution from angles of fact and interest. In and MBA course on innovative leadership, we challenge novice leaders with questions such as: What will innovation look like in the 21st Century, and how will your business promote passionate growth that facilitates inventions? What two-footed question would launch passion for your next innovative offering?
8. Capitalize on tone tools for tough times, and passion tends to follow. Fervor for innovation gets lost, on the other hand, in climates where toxins such as bullying or intimidation exist. Simply put, tone makes or breaks passion for innovation. Passion can flee, faster than lightening strikes an iron rod in an electric storm. When stress, negativity or ego shoots down top ideas, passionate participants wonder whether it’s a lot less stressful to hang up their cleats in favor of doing bare routines. The brain’s equipment to restore passion, tone tactics act like a vehicle to tug innovation and purpose back into play. It helps to invite an example of good tone from a gentle, yet passionate leader, and discuss how to offer olive branches back and forth across silos. To reflect on personal contributions you make toward building passionate communities – ask committed players what tone they hear in your words and compare their responses to what your words meant to convey.
9. Start well facilitated social network discussions. It can be as simple as tossing out a good question, or as complex as launching a web discussion at work. Recently I started a simple back-and-forth on Twitter to toss around insights and brain facts about multi-tasking as it affects innovation. Research, for instance, shows that multi-tasking works against innovation because it bottle necks the brain’s ability to focus or innovate. Within minutes – dozens of passionate responses followed. From too many workplace expectations in a day, to new lessons about focusing better – people added lessons from their daily lives. Just as all brains wire differently, I hoped to see how people view multi-tasking as it relates to their own innovation. Social networks add new colors and textures to stir passionate brainpower because people hold up lived experiences to the rainbow for another look.
10. Run from cynics where passion often yields to pessimism. Have you noticed how stocks rise when passionate people speak hope? Or have you seen financial markets nosedive when naysayers spout doom? Luckily pools of innovative brainpower for passionate communities – lies beyond the sea of cynicism. This trend hinges on the fact that passion and purpose adds serotonin to spark curiosity and fuel collective brainpower forward. Cortisol, on the other hand, shuts down originality, robs enthusiasm, and increases fear of failure. Make sense? When cynics spread fear, brainpower shuts down before passion innovation stands a chance. When passionate creators spark curiosity imagination tends to kick in genius. That’s just how brainpower works to build more passion into innovative communities.
If you agree that not all people experience the same passion at work, you’ll likely also agree that passion in any community starts with a personal choice and is sustained by marks of a genius. What do you think?