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Innovation Leadership - Finding the Tiger


Greetings Humans

This year our wish is to awaken the leader in you. We hope to inspire you to take the lead in impactful projects. To take courageous steps that bring about positive change amidst the noise and fear and uncertainty that surrounds us all. In the series of pieces we will provide fresh insight to support our community in Innovation Leadership. This piece talks to being brave, curious and vulnerable (not necessarily in that order) as you lead Innovation and human centred design projects across your ecosystem.

The year of the Tiger

Use this year of the Tiger to refresh your approach and pivot from (unwanted or unneeded attitudes), no matter what Chinese Calendar year you were born in. And most importantly, don’t rely on luck to make this happen. Take the luck out of innovation and get down to building the capabilities that will bring about positive change.

We argue that success in innovative come from those who work hard at it. So, by being empathic, creative and action-oriented, to interpret, learn and adapt to what works should result in improved results.

This is best supported achieved working in a team, taking the randomness of relying on one person’s perspective and blending in multiple perspectives. This applies not only to understanding a problem (and its root causes) but also to coming up with robust concepts to resolve these.

Scholar Jonathan H.X. Lee said the symbolism of the tiger embodies courage and bravery, so the new year could symbolize resilience and strength — even in times of struggle. For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, which officially began on the first day of February, the occasion could mark a pivot toward refreshingly good change.

What three elements might help with a fresh approach to innovation. We will start with the three below and discuss how they interrelate, as a start to a new wave of innovation:

1. Vulnerability 2. Courageousness 3. Curiosity


Why start with vulnerability? Vulnerability has emerged through the work of Brene Brown as being strongly connected to empathy. She claims it is also the basis of good leadership. So how might this work. Good leaders are those that are willing to have difficult conversations and then collectively take actions about the things that make a difference. In doing this, leaders need to let go of what is subjectively right, or perceived fact and be open to other people’s actual feeling, viewpoints and needs. So in talking to others, good leaders should listen first and assert their point of view later. Be open to ambiguity of not knowing. Assess whether guidance towards a better outcome might be necessary, rather than instructing and demanding. This process includes taking stock of your ego and consciously letting others guide you with what they need. And during this process being willing to absorb feedback without taking it personally. Tip: Initiate and be open to frank and transparent discussion. Set the ego aside and allow constructive changes to take place within clearly-established boundaries. Good leaders are assertive, in a kind and inclusive way.


Brene Brown’s lesson of “no courage without vulnerability” means that the courageous person goes forth into risk and danger in spite of being afraid. Should there be risk, the safe behaviour would be to play it safe, not rocking the boat, and sticking to the status quo. Rather go into the situation and be transparent about the hard stuff to let a new future emerge.

Courageousness therefore embraces vulnerability and helps good leaders to handle different circumstances appropriately with others engaged in setting boundaries. Awareness of the challenges going on gives the ability to take one brave step after the other, without forcing the issue and blocking new opportunities for fresh alliances. An example would be to talk with your team, to listen to their preferred outcomes and to understand the barriers getting in the way. Allow for their solutions to these barriers to take a life of their own. Tip: Set up a fear free environment. The trick to success is not to project your bias or point of view onto a current situation. Drop the armour and allow for transparent feedback without fear in either direction. Set up listening sessions and be open and aware of what is going on in others and allow for communication to flow without repercussions.


"The single biggest problem about communication is the illusion that it has taken place" George Bernard Shaw Curiosity compliments being vulnerable and empathic. It brings the message home of being vulnerable but open to what other people may or may not need. People may not communicate their fears if they sense a lack of authenticity. Should your team feel there is a lack of curiosity to understand they may not volunteer their thoughts. They may not feel listened to either and as a result may not feel courageous themselves to speak up. Curiosity therefore as a basis for discovery, will help you obtain clarity and give you the right mindset for approaching complex or challenging problems that your team may be struggling with. Tip: Before engaging others, consider the problem, determine where your biases and assumptions lie. Write them down and suspend them somewhere secret where they can’t be found. We call this clearing the lenses. It helps to set up a genuine attitude of curiosity to allow for other people’s views to be heard.

Thank-you for reading this and we wish you all the best for 2022. May the Tiger in you burn bright, may your curiosity shine through and may your courage guide you to allow for vulnerability to lead you through ambiguous situations.

We look forward to exploring these and other concepts with you over the course of the year that will provide fresh insights and understandings of how to lead through ambiguity to innovate, thrive and grow.


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