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Monday, December 10, 2012

Conquering The Enemies of Innovation: Silence and Fear 12-11

Peter had been out fishing all night but did not catch anything.  He was a professional fisherman who’s income depended on his ability to catch fish so this was not a good night.  As Peter was washing his nets the next morning, probably feeling very discouraged Jesus came along and asked to use Peter’s boat to talk to the people.  Peter’s life was about to change!

After Jesus finished he said to Peter, let’s go fishing.  Peter’s response was pretty amazing.  He said Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything, but because you say so, I’ll let down the nets.  The results were amazing.  Peter caught so many fish that the nets started to tear.  From nothing to overabundance in 10 minutes!  Peter worked all night and caught nothing and then went fishing with Jesus and caught more than he ever had.
What does this story tell us about Fear of Failure?
  • God is interested in your success.  He is not interested in seeing you fail.  He wants you to be successful in your personal, family, business and spiritual life.  
  • You must let God into your entire life.  God wants to use you at home, work and in the things you do, not just at church.  In Philippians it says Pray about everything.  Peter allowed his boat to be used for Christ’s purposes.  Jesus used the boat to reach people then he took care of Peter’s needs.
  • We must cooperate with God’s plan in our lives and not allow fear of failure to cause us not to act.  Jesus told Peter where to fish, when to fish and how to fish and Peter did not argue.  Peter’s entire life was changed because of this event.  It would have been really easy for him to say “Lord I fished all night and did not catch a thing.  I’m really tired and the fish are not biting today.  That’s how I feel many times.  Lord I’ve worked so hard and have not seen any progress.  What’s the use?  Why try again?  I’m sure that thought went across Peter’s mind but instead of giving into it he followed Jesus’ leading.
  •  When God works in your life, it always involves risks, because God wants you to live by faith, not fear of failure.
  • When you get God’s presence in your boat, and when you get God’s plan in your head, and when you get God’s promises in your heart, you cannot fail.  Getting God’s plan into my head is the hardest part.  Discerning what God wants us to do can be difficult.  I think about Pastor Bil Cornelius who leads Bay Area Fellowship, which is one of the fastest growing churches in America.  Before starting this church he worked on setting up another one in a different town and met with failure.  How could this be?  His methods were the same but God wanted him to start a church in Corpus Christi and when he obeyed amazing things happened.
  • Start expecting God to act.  You may be experiencing defeat, hard times, problems that seem to have no solution but just as Jesus performed a miracle in Peter’s life he can do it in your life also.  Nido Qubein, president of High Point University said “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.”
  • God wants to bless you so much that you have to share your blessings with others in order to keep yourself from sinking.  He not only wants to bless  you, but bless other people through you.
  • Just because you haven’t solved your problem doesn’t mean a solution doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t give up.  try again, but this time do it with Jesus in your boat.  He will make all the difference.

Conquering The Enemies of Innovation: Silence and Fear


As early as 2004, research   from Elizabeth Wolf Morrison and Frances J. Milliken for the Academy of Management Review and Stern Business pegged fear — and the resulting silence when employees operate within a culture of fear — as the biggest roadblock to innovation.
A recent survey   by the Robert Half Group confirms that in 2012, the problem remains. What makes employees afraid?
In their survey, employees cite the following issues:

1. Fear of making a mistake tops the list (cited by 30%)

2. Fear of getting fired. In fact, not only the fear of getting fired outright, but the fear of appearing less dedicated or vital if they actually take earned vacation days is a big issue in a slow economy. The data shows employees left an average of 11 vacation days untaken in 2011. 

3. Fear of dealing with difficult customers or clients

4. Fear of conflict with a manager
5. Fear of speaking in front of a group
6. Fear of disagreements with co-workers
Only 3% of employees consider themselves "fearless." We shouldn't be surprised that their innovation is gone.
What can we do to turn this deadly equation around? Open communication is critical to ending organizational fear. As Morrison and Milliken note, in a fearful environment, front-line employees are unwilling to share because they are afraid somebody will "kill the messenger." Genuine communication happens only behind closed door or in whispers, and outward communication becomes shallow or disappears.
Without a healthy feedback loop, the organization loses the focus required for problem solving efforts and innovative new developments and productivity gains.
How can we help employees to conquer their fears, and to bring their innovation forward? We suggest the following three steps:
1. We must learn to truly trust our employees. We must trust their inherent powers and strengths. We must trust them to find and deliver their finest nature, which is only possible if leaders regard and treat their employees as fully creative and capable people. We must trust them to care about each other, and about their customers. In Overcoming Worry and Fear  , psychologist and author Paul A. Hauck points out that genuine trust is beyond empowerment. When leadership thinks in terms of "giving power," to employees, they are giving employees something they (and employees) inherently know that they also have the power to take back. A leader who genuinely trusts their people believes and communicates that employees already have all of the power they need within them, and communicates that he or she trusts them to use their power honorably and well.
2. We must rely on principles, not policies, to govern our decisions and acts. Instead of managing employees through policies and rules, consider the possibility of agreeing on guiding principles instead. For us, the principles are our 7 Non Negotiables: Respect, Belief, Trust, Loyalty, Courage, Gratitude and Commitment. By adhering to these foundational traits, employees can govern their own decisions without manager oversight or performance appraisals. More importantly, they are no longer fearful about the possibility they will make a mistake.
3. Employees must experiment before they create. A fearful employee can never experiment. In an environment of trust, however, individuals and teams thrive on the opportunity to create and try new approaches. They understand the opportunities that can only come from mistakes. Interestingly, Amazon's Jeff Bezos--Fortune Magazine's 2012 Businessman of the Year--has noted that organizations weaken themselves most through sins of omission, primarily their failure to experiment. Why do they not experiment? Yet again, the fear of making mistakes. Experiments--and failures--are vital (and along with obsessive dedication to customer support are the single biggest cause, he says, of Amazon's world-changing success.)
In summary, employees who feel supported and appreciated will feel sufficiently secure to devote their full energy, creativity and passion to the company and its goals. They will naturally innovate in every area within their influence.
We must move away from work environments that are based on command and control. We must eliminate fear for innovation to truly occur. If you are willing to take this challenge, the changes you see will astound you.