To Promote Innovation, "Let’s Try It and See"

May 15, 2016
Wally Bock

I love hanging around musicians. I love their energy and perspectives that are different from mine. That’s why I was hanging out in a music studio on a fine summer day a few years ago while a recording session was underway.

The band had been going for an hour or so when they got into a disagreement about how to play one of the songs. One band member thought they should play it one way. Another disagreed. They debated. Other members joined in. Hands were thrown in the air. Then the recording engineer leaned into his microphone.

“Gentlemen,” he intoned in a marvelous deep bass voice.

The musicians quieted down and looked toward the control booth.

“Play it both ways and pick the one you like best.” He paused for a couple of beats. “That way maybe we can all be home by Christmas.”

The musicians laughed. They played the piece one way, then the other way. Most of them liked the second version. They modified it a little and the session continued. We were all out of there by dinner time, with months to spare before Christmas.

Try it, Don’t Talk About it

When you’ve got a difference of opinion about what to do, you can debate your options forever. Or, you can experiment.

Most of the time, trying things out will give you better answers faster than debating what to do. As a bonus, tests resolve debates and make it easier for every team member to support the action.

Test Your Way to Innovation

Experiments can help you keep the innovation fires burning. When a team member brings you an idea, don’t spend precious time talking about why it will or won’t work. Instead say, “How can we test this?” and go from there.

Bosses Bottom Line

Live trials beat debates for decision making and innovation.

More From Wally Bock

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How to Talk to Team Members About Performance

In addition to writing the Three Star Leadership blog, Wally Bock is an author, ghostwriter, writing coach and book doctor. In his past lives he has run a small publishing company, been a popular keynote speaker to audiences around the world, and served as a U. S. Marine. He loves good beer, good friends, and good stories.

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