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Fake it 'till you make it!

March 13, 2018

Three tips to start innovating today.

Sometimes in life, we are unsure of the path forward and are faced with moments of uncertainty. But, what we do know for certain is, there are always risks. In fact, we spend copious amounts of time considering potential hazards, becoming paralyzed in the process. Not only does this happen in our personal lives but also in business. We see organizations achieve years of success, but when the growth curve stalls, they struggle to find a new path forward.

That’s when we need to push for something new and exciting. We need to innovate. The challenge though, is that we are faced with so many barriers to innovation because of existing systems and processes established to control the complexity of larger organizations. It can be difficult to navigate our way forward.

This challenge reminds me of a struggle my daughter had as a competitive gymnast.

She had excellent coaching and physical conditioning to perform a back handspring on the beam of all things (not something I would attempt!). Yet, while her body knew the physical actions required to perform the move, her mind would take over, instructing her there were too many risks to take. She was paralyzed.

For a very long time, she practiced the motions on the floor, first using a line in place of a beam, then on a raised mat, then moving up to a very low beam. She slowly graduated to full beam height—but then froze, just has she did before. So, she retreated back to the low beam and practiced endlessly.

A senior, very accomplished gymnast, had been tracking her progress and rooting for her. Before my daughter attempted full height again, this senior gymnast came over and gave her an encouraging tip. She said “Even if you don’t think you can make it, believe you can. Fake it ‘till you make it!”. My daughter got up on the beam at competition height. She said those words to herself and went for it. She got past the paralysis! She didn’t make it the first time, or the second or the third, but she had imagined she could and kept repeating to herself “Fake it ‘till you make it!”. Eventually, she landed her backhand spring on the beam to the thunderous applause of her teammates.

In business, acting as if your organization is innovative allows teams to think differently and can set off a desired chain of events for the future. Here are three tips to help you get started..

  1. Start to think like an entrepreneur - Begin to break the rules and change the way you think about your existing business. You won’t always have all the answers, in fact given today’s rapidly changing environment, you’ll likely have more unknowns than knowns. Paralysis cannot be allowed to set in, or the competition will pass you by.
  2. Take baby steps - Try something new, pretend you know what you are doing by making a plan of action to tackle the biggest unknowns first.
  3. Fail fast but do it cheaply – Fail fast and cheap in a contained setting or environment. Then, move on to greater heights while keeping the continuous cycle of learning in motion to determine next steps. The path will eventually become clear. When you reflect back, you’ll realize you also had to fake it at first until you made it. Believe in the possible, not the impossible!

At InVision Edge, we incorporate this practice into our comprehensive system of Innovation Engineering. We help leaders and their teams make great things happen. And we believe you can build the skills, systems and mindset to innovate and grow.

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