When an organisation stops innovating, it is only a matter of time before it fails. But what causes a company to cease coming up with new ideas? Over the last 20 years, Timothy Clark, founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, has studied many failed organisations and one of the things he consistently sees is an almost imperceptible erosion of intellectual bravery.
Intellectual bravery is a willingness to disagree, dissent, or challenge the status quo in a setting of social risk in which you could be embarrassed, marginalised, or punished in some way. When intellectual bravery disappears, organisations develop patterns of willful blindness. Bureaucracy buries boldness. Efficiency crushes creativity. From there, the status quo calcifies and stagnation sets in.
The responsibility for creating a culture of intellectual bravery lies in leadership. As a leader, you set the tone, create the vibe, and define the prevailing norms. Whether or not your company has a culture of intellectual bravery depends on your ability to establish a pattern of rewarded rather than punished vulnerability. Timothy share two examples in this blog.