I truly believe that creating an environment where people can freely express themselves without fear is the single biggest thing any organization, large and small, can do to be more innovative.
Unfortunately, people are scared of speaking up. There are great and talented people inside established organizations who’s voices, because of fear or retaliation, are never heard from. Organizations want everyone to bring their best self to work everyday, but only when it benefits them in they way they want.
And this fear of being punished makes its way into daily life. For example, there’s been a handful of times people have left a comment in one of my blog posts with something like this: you shouldn’t write about this because it may limit your biz opportunities.
Basically, they’re telling me to write about safe subjects or stay quiet. Well, I don’t stay quiet; never have and never will. It’s sad to say but it takes courage to look strong:
Olympic champion @allysonfelix is as bold and amazing on the page as she is on the track.
"I’ve always known that expressing myself could hurt my career. But you can’t change anything with silence."
Read her piece and watch her powerful short video.https://t.co/Np0qgRbPhX
— Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) May 22, 2019
Innovation dies where fear lives. In organizations, most managers are really fear mongers. This creates an environment where people shut themselves down. When change happens from the top down it’s because one or two things have happened:
- Visionary leader is anticipating great challenges;
- Company is stagnant and is reacting late to changes.
But when change happens from bottom up, it’s usually a sign of revolt; but it doesn’t have to be that way. Change from the bottom up is what you want, you just have to create the conditions for it to happen. The people on the front lines are the best equipped and aware of the challenges. You have to give them a voice, create a safe environment where people can express themselves.
Bottom line: Whether it’s social or work issues, people have to voice their opinion without fear of retribution; that’s how you truly get people’s best everyday.