Why Innovation Depends on Intellectual Honesty

Innovation flourishes when people on a team openly debate and disagree. The question is how to get them to speak their minds, particularly when it means challenging their leaders or acknowledged experts. Some management experts argue that the best way to get people to speak up is to create psychological safety — an atmosphere described by Harvard professor Amy Edmondson as one in which “people feel accepted and comfortable sharing concerns and mistakes without fear of embarrassment or retribution.”1

But research also indicates that feeling that it’s safe to dissent isn’t the only important factor for ensuring healthy debate. In our studies of innovators and their teams, we’ve found there can be a tension that few people recognize between psychological safety and intellectual honesty: that is, a culture in which team members will proactively voice their ideas and disagreements in a rational and constructive way (like the Star Trek character Mr. Spock, but with acknowledgment of their human emotions and biases).2 Intellectual honesty significantly increases a team’s ability to innovate — particularly to create breakthrough innovations — because it unleashes the knowledge of team members.
— Read on sloanreview.mit.edu/article/why-innovation-depends-on-intellectual-honesty/


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