The emotional side of innovation

The process of hatching creative ideas is often represented by a glowing light bulb or a gleaming technical image of some sort. Since we at Farrow give a lot of thought to the realities of implementing innovative approaches, we decided to capture five tips from our daily practice for the benefit of anyone who faces resistance to acting on their ideas. Here are 14 slides that introduce tactics for working through the emotional ups and downs of innovation. What do you think? What are your tips for attracting support and transforming naysayers?

-Sharon VanderKaay


  1. Great post Sharon – I really like the way you use slideshare to present your ideas on your blog!

    At our company, Construction Specialties, we’ve tried to make ‘innovation’ part of everyday workflows and activities. We would actually welcome the ‘naysayer’ in the ideation process. It’s a much needed part of filtering out the useful ideas from those that might continue through our product development process without much real potential for implementation. By making new ideas and innovation an interwoven part of how we work, we find less resistance than we might in dedicated meetings or brainstorming sessions.

    On another note, ideas that are truly innovative tend to spark the most conversations around naysayers. As you pointed out in the slides, these ideas challenge the status quo (and can replace or disrupt others’ prior work in the organization). Making sure the naysayers can be included in such processes can go a long way in seeing that great ideas make it out of the company and into the hands of our customers!

    Luckily, many digital collaboration tools are making it easier than ever to rally people around innovation within the company – and include individuals with a diverse range of perspectives. We know that the ability to connect these ‘weak ties’ in the company produces greater innovation results than working within the same teams day-to-day.

    Just discovered the blog, so expect some more comments from me on older posts – cool stuff!

    Kevin Morris
    Construction Specialties, Acrovyn 4000

    • Sharon Vanderkaay

      Thanks for your thoughts on this topic Kevin.

      When it comes to new ideas, I see a difference between naysayers and feedback. Negative feedback, I agree with you, often contributes to a better result.

      But probably every new idea in the history of the world has had naysayers who could have stopped progress. Especially when engaged in visionary projects, there’s a risk of settling for mediocrity. Our process brings concerns to the surface as part of ongoing dialogue aimed at co-creating a way forward.

      From your description, Construction Specialties sounds like a leader in the big shift (so well described by C. K. Prahalad et al.) beyond company-centric value creation to co-creation with customers.

      You might be also interested in our earlier post on TIMTOWODI (There Is More Than One Way Of Doing It) titled “All Hail, Tim Toady” on the merits of dialogue vs debate.

      Look forward to hearing from you again!


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  • About The Nature of Innovation

    We see our collaboration with clients and colleagues as providing a living lab for enriching the creative process. Farrow’s built work has been internationally recognized for leadership in human-centric design. This is where we come to discuss our ideas as they hatch and our experiences as they happen.
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