Bet On Brains, Not Experience

Working for a traditional company means that you follow a set of rules, the company is configured so things happen in a determined way on a daily basis. There are set processes, therefore surprises are chided and anything that disrupts routines is avoided.

This is the reality in every established organization, big or small. Yet, we’re currently experiencing a disruptive event, one that will have a lasting impact in our lives and others. This whole pandemic has shifted and accelerated what many legacy companies and organizations have avoided for a long time: digitalization of the enterprise.

Many people have ideas as to how to go about evolving from this point forward, but nobody has any experience in it. Truth is, uncertainty requires more questions than answers.

Curiosity is your flashlight through the fog of uncertainty

Established business will looking for answers, and that usually means hiring people with experience or putting their most experienced people in positions where they think they can be useful. The problem is, when it comes to hiring for innovation, you want people who are not cursed by knowledge. In other words, what you know limits what you can imagine.

Experienced people can easily be fitted into a box, categorized and defined. You know what you get from them. Experienced people know how to apply a formula, that’s why they’re considered experienced. But uncertainty requires a different set of abilities: questioning, creativity and experimentation.

I’m not someone who likes to be fitted into a box. I don’t like to be limited, to be told what I can and can’t do. I’m perfectly happy in unfamiliar situations where I don’t know. My mantra is I’ll figure it out someway or another.

And this is precisely the type of trait you want in people you hire or put in positions of incfluence; people who have a growth mindset. Innovation is as much about attitude and perspective as it is about process. Innovation doesn’t come from a template, it comes from a combination of attitude, curiosity, courage, bias for action and grit. See if you can find people with these traits, do yourself a favor and bet on them.

Your company won’t grow and evolve if your people don’t grow and evolve.

Bottom line: If you want innovation, value ability more than experience. Put people in roles that require more of them than they know they had in them. Trust that things will work out if you put talented people in positions where they can grow, even if they are in unfamiliar territory.