Without people feeling comfortable to think differently, how can organisations achieve innovation?
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” That quote, attributed to automotive business magnate Henry Ford, perfectly sums up why taking risks, trying new things and stretching ourselves is so important for a high-performing workplace.
It’s also why feeling safe to stretch is a key component of teams creating and experiencing ‘flow’ together. Flow is the optimum state of intrinsic motivation, in which people experience peak performance and greater wellbeing.
Feeling safe to stretch means people feeling able to challenge themselves. It means being able to take risks and make mistakes. Fear of failure is the enemy of innovation.
It also means feeling able to speak up and express our opinions, something that is sadly not a given in all workplaces. According to a 2017 survey by Gallup, only three in 10 employees strongly agree with the statement that their opinions count at work.
In environments where people are safe to stretch, everyone is able to focus on finding their own ‘flow points’, where they find challenge matching their level of skill. According to research, when people feel safe, they are more likely to seek and constructively take feedback, act to resolve conflict and communicate more openly. Teams who feel safe to stretch with each other are more likely to reach a state of collective flow.