my boss won’t let me

Seth Godin wrote a piece for the Guardian a couple of years ago now, which included a list of ways to be remarkable. All of that is useful advice, and it’s a good piece that’s worth reading. The part that caught my eye though was the conclusion, because it reminded me of some of the discussion here around the idea of public sector innovation, or innovating in situations where you feel like you can’t. Here’s the quote:

“But wait!” I hear you say. “My boss won’t let me. I want to do something great, but she won’t let me.”

This is, of course, nonsense. Your boss won’t let you because what you’re really asking is: “May I do something silly and fun and, if it doesn’t work, will you take the blame – but if it does work, I get the credit?” What would you say to an offer like that?

The alternative sounds scary, but I don’t think it is. The alternative is to just be remarkable. Go all the way to the edge. Not in a big thing, perhaps, but in a little one. Find some area where you have a tiny bit of authority and run with it. After you succeed, you’ll discover you’ve got more leeway for next time. And if you fail? Don’t worry. Your organisation secretly wants employees willing to push hard even if it means failing every so often.

And when? When should you start being remarkable? How’s this: if you don’t start tomorrow, you’re not really serious. Tomorrow night by midnight or don’t bother. You’re too talented to sit around waiting for the perfect moment. Go start.

I think that his advice there in the third paragraph is exactly correct. The way to be innovative is to try stuff. Start with whatever small stuff you can get away with, then build from there. Why not?

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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