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Organizations spend billions annually in efforts to speed innovation on their teams but are stymied if their investments don’t result in better performance. What else can they add to their strategic toolbox to help learning and creativity thrive in their culture?

Just-released research by leadership and innovation experts Jeff Dyer and Nathan Furr reveals that intellectual honesty may be the missing ingredient teams need for new ideas to prosper.

Their new MIT Sloan article, “Why Innovation Depends on Intellectual Honesty,” delivers five rules to quickly establish or reinforce a team culture that balances open conversation with respect for individuals.

Their methodology helps leaders build an environment where team members freely discuss ideas and take decisive action in ways that help them maintain consideration for each other. By providing protocols for a straightforward and intellectually honest approach, employees learn quickly and easily as they question and challenge each other, acknowledge what they don’t know, and admit mistakes, saving money over the development process.

“Focusing on social cohesion instead of candid discussion can undermine honest debate,” says Dyer, who is a professor at Wharton and a Distinguished Professor of Strategy at Brigham Young University. “The challenge for most leaders is to learn how to be more like Mr. Spock by promoting frank debate on the problems the team needs to solve in a hyperrational, non-biased way that defuses interpersonal conflict.”

A Blueprint for Open and Respectful Team Communication

Dyer and Furr, who is an Associate Professor of Strategy at INSEAD, have a long partnership studying the science and art behind innovation. Their 2019 book, “Innovation Capital: How to Compete – and Win – Like the World’s Most Innovative Leaders” (Harvard Business Review Press), provides a blueprint for becoming an effective champion of ideas using strategies derived from interviews with today’s most forward-thinking CEOs. Following these interviews, Dyer and Furr’s curiosity only expanded, leading them to launch an investigation that ultimately uncovered the principles that are most important to achieving an innovative, high-performance team culture.

Whether an organization is far along in their journey to a culture of intellectual honesty or just getting started, Dyer and Furr present an actionable guidebook to getting the benefits of fully developed social relationships in an organization in a short amount of time. Their suggestions show leaders how listening with empathy, seeing others’ perspectives and defusing conflict by finding common goals is more likely to foster intellectual honesty, leading to a more innovative and higher-performing team.

When an organization needs a boost to innovate at the speed of light, whether their employees have developed lasting relationships or are a brand-new team, Dyer and Furr’s research suggests intellectual honesty may be the answer.

A workplace culture built on honest, open communication unleashes the knowledge of team members, leading to breakthrough innovations. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.

Fast-Track Efficient Innovation by Embracing Intellectual Honesty was last modified: February 1st, 2023 by Meg Virag