Saturday, April 11, 2009

My experiments with “mindset” for “opening up”

Have you come across a long argument just because people thought arguments were meant for winning?

Have you ever created a powerpoint presentation painting a good picture, when you yourself were not convinced?

Have you come across a situation when the genuinely better solution did not make it?

Have you heard an external consultant to your company recommending what you already thought was the way to go?

Actually this post is not about finding a solution to these challenges or calling them right or wrong.

For now I want to point to a behind the door thing - the “mindset”, which I have been currently experimenting with myself and found to be immensely helpful. While you give it a thought, let me try to list down the “desired” characteristics of this “mindset” when it comes to “opening up”. Do drop a comment, if you think of any additional characteristics.
  • It is amazingly refreshing and eventually rewarding to tolerate people and ideas “worse than yours”, “as good as yours” and “better than yours”.
  • It is tough but turns out equally good later, to get contradicted and yet not mind too much!
  • It hurts less and keeps the door open when you develop an ability to trash the genuine trash without creating an opinion of any sort.
  • It pays-off to believe that execution, and not the origin or the idea itself, is the crux of the matter.
  • It is fun and sometimes even more productive to be less formal in all your dealings.
  • It changes quite a few of your beliefs when you develop an ability to genuinely look out for value inputs from sources beyond “yourself” and beyond “your known sources”
  • It is worthwhile to revel in personal satisfaction, while building upon each others ideas.
  • It surprises you, when you realize that sharing your ideas paves way for even better ideas from you, the next time around.
If I could summarize these … when you develop a capability to “collaborate”, is when you start getting results from “opening up”.


  1. I think the biggest challenge is to listen to new ideas without getting judgmental. Half the time, we are quick to negate somebody's ideas (just because they don't think like us) without giving a chance for the other person to explain himself/herself. There is usually something to learn from other's experiences and ideas if we listen patiently enough and tweak it with our own experiences. The problem with being judgmental is that it spreads like wildfire and before you know it everybody else is shooting every other person down without even being aware of it.

  2. Well its indeed an essential list of traits for Collaborative innovation.

    Here are a couple of more....
    1. Its the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.
    2. Its the vital instrument for any entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
    3. Dream of what you have not achieved rather than what you can achieve.

  3. Thank you for this post (I found it through your LinkedIn discussion on the Front End Innovation Group page). Have you seen Vijay Govindarajan's (prof. at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business in US) video on the Innovation Mindset? You can watch it at

    Two ideas that Prof. Govindarajan suggests speak directly to your points. First is a willingness to collaborate. Innovation requires teamwork and organizational effort to commercialize the creative idea. Second, it helps to create a tolerance for failure. By definition, innovation means doing something new, something pathbreaking. That means you're not going to succeed 100% of the time. Unless an organization tolerates failure, employees won't push the envelope.

  4. As you rightly said Madhu, we see things the way we want to see, many a times it helps, but as many times it does not.

    Thanks for adding on more characteristics Chandraprakash, I surely agree on the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.

    No I had not seen this particular video of Prof. Govindarajan, thanks for sharing the link Andrea. Creating a tolerance for failure is a excellent point.