29. April 2021

An exercise to cultivate a positive innovation climate in your teams

Innovation needs an atmosphere of collective thinking. It allows thinking out loud, experimenting, searching, picking up new ideas and letting them go again. Empirical research has found evidence that “psychological safety” is the most important ingredient of highly-successful innovative teams.

Constant complaining, blaming and shaming are the #1 killers for an inspiring innovation climate in teams. But how often are we ending up - intentionally or not - complaining about the circumstances, blaming others for not having acted as expected or shaming ourselves - as well as others - for our own mistakes?

In the moment of complaining, blaming or shaming, we give up the power over our lives. We weaken and victimize ourselves. To be innovative, however, we need the contrary: We need to take the power back into our lives. We need to strengthen our belief in ourselves to conquer challenges, find solutions, be open for inspiration and encourage ourselves to generate new ideas.

The 1 € experimental exercise. I recently came across this very easy experimental exercise on how to consciously reduce the amount of complaining, blaming and shaming moments: Agree with your team for 4 consecutive team meetings in a row to engage together in a 1€ experimental exercise. It implies that whoever during the meeting unconsciously complains, blames or shames pays 1€ into a visible box (of course according to your currency and possibilities – it’s simply a symbolic act). You can even set out to use the collected amount of money for a later team event or donate it.

A playful way to be more conscious about cultivating a positive climate. When we performed this experiment ourselves, it was a true eye-opener. I must admit I was embarrassingly bad the first day :)! But I really managed to reduce complaining, blaming and shaming over time. You’ll find your team immediately in helpful, yet playful discussions around how wording can make a huge difference. “I am really totally in stress at the moment” (a complaint) might then become “I think I’ll need first a short break and grab a tea before I continue.” If all buy-in to the experiment, the whole team feels an immediate energetic boost effect in the team atmosphere for the benefit of all. On top of that, it becomes a great way of exercising mutual team feedback in a light, easy and fun way. We probably all think we would be much better than we are at the beginning. But it’s incredible how fast we give-up our moments of complaining in the face of an instantly gained much more positive, energetic climate that inspires new thinking and finding solutions together.

Please feel welcome to try it out – you can easily play it as well in your family surrounding or simply for yourself! I would very much love to hear from your experiences! Please share it with us.

Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Dr. Eva Bilhuber
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