Courage in innovation

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Innovation defies convention, challenges our preconceived notions, and sparks radical transformation. Picture a lone figure standing on a cliff at the edge of the known world, staring into the unknown. That could be you! Sounds fun, right?

Or does it sound intimidating? A little scary?

Innovation within an organization doesn’t just happen when you flip a switch. A lot of the process depends on the willingness of people to break out of their own bubbles and bare themselves–their thoughts, ideas, and talents that they can use to contribute to the innovation effort. It requires you to have the courage to help make change.

Courage requires individuals to challenge norms and question assumptions. It takes bravery to challenge the way things have always been done and to come up with new and innovative solutions.  This kind of courage can be uncomfortable, but it can also lead to breakthroughs that would never have been possible otherwise.

Courage isn’t only relevant on a broad scale, but is also necessary among and within teams. It can be intimidating to speak up and share your ideas. Furthermore, speaking up is not enough; you must take accountability and be willing to follow through on your proposals.

This requires a different kind of courage–that to take action and see things through to completion. Being accountable means taking ownership of your work, staying committed to your goals, and being willing to make adjustments along the way. It also means being willing to accept feedback and constructive criticism, which can be challenging but ultimately leads to growth and improvement.



The environment you work in will affect how comfortable you and your colleagues feel. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create a space where mustering courage doesn’t feel like an impossible task. Additionally, you should help align your team with your organization’s innovation goals so they know when to take courage and speak up.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be difficult, especially when it comes to sharing personal ideas and perspectives. It takes courage to speak up, challenge the status quo, and offer a different viewpoint. This can feel risky—you might worry that these ideas will not be well-received. Are you challenging the opinions of those in positions of power? However, it is essential for individuals to find the courage to speak up and bring unique insights to the table. This can help foster an open communication culture where all team members feel valued and heard.

Innovation is not for the faint of heart. However, the courage required comes from within as well as from those around us. When you find yourself contributing to something you understand and care about, you may be surprised at how easy it is to step up to the cliff and into the unknown.

Parker Lee

Parker Lee is the managing partner of Territory, a design consultancy, who has developed and led teams in transformation, design thinking, and business development for decades. Co-author of The Art of Opportunity, he has created and facilitated dozens of design and visual thinking engagements.

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