Episode 19: Everyday Innovation with Tamara Ghandour

Meet Tamara Ghandour, Everyday Innovator

In this episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, Jenn DeWall sits down with author, speaker and founder and president of Launch Street, Tamara Ghandour. Tamara shares her insight as an innovation expert on the four traps of certainty that leaders and organizations fall into that jeopardize innovation efforts. I’ve found a lot of value in Tamara’s episode and I hope that you do too.

Jenn DeWall:                     Hi, everyone, and thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast. It’s Jenn DeWall, and today I am so excited to introduce you to innovation thought leader, the creator of the IQE assessment and the President and Founder of LaunchStreet, Tamara Ghandour. Tamara, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s so great to have you! I just like love everything about you, and I’m so excited for our interview.

Tamara Ghandour:           Well, thank you for having me, and we have so much to talk about. I just don’t know where to start because it’s going to be so good!

Jenn DeWall:                     I know! We have to talk, we have to go to the basics- because I’ve gotten to know a lot about you and what you do, but could you just tell us a little bit about what you do, what LaunchStreet is and how you play in the innovation space for those that may not have heard of you.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah, yeah. I love how you said that- play in the innovation space, too. So my company LaunchStreet, what we do is we help individuals and teams gain a competitive advantage through the power of innovation. And what we really do is the human side of innovation. We, we’d like to think of it as we unlock the “i” in innovation. So you can think about innovation in the sense of what’s the process you use or what’s the culture we want to create. But all of that is really built on the foundation of how do you or individuals, how do your teams, how do they innovate as humans? How do we bring that to the forefront? Because the reality is we can invest in all the processes and tools and flavor of the month technology we want. But if our people aren’t being innovative, none of that actually works anyway. So companies who work with us, really come to us because they say, Hey, we know people are our best asset. So we want to get them to be more innovative both as individuals and then as high performing teams so that we can build the culture we’re looking for. So that’s, that’s ultimately what we do. And I have to say, Jenn, it’s so rewarding because we get to see transformations, not just at the company and bottom-line level. That’s super exciting. But where it starts, which is that the people inside the organization,

Jenn DeWall:                     I think what’s so inspiring about what you do is you give people- the everyday person that may not be or even think of themselves as innovative- you give them the opportunity to identify as someone that is an innovator. And I think knowing the importance of innovation. It’s so important that we give people that power, and I love that you take it down to that human-level or you have the eye-level because it is so essential, and yeah, and everyone should be innovative.

Discouraging Innovation Starts Early

Tamara Ghandour:           Well, and I think, you know, we could go on and on about why innovation is so important if we want to. I mean, we, a lot of us, know that the times are changing. The competitive landscape is fiercer than ever before. The rate of change is faster than ever. The pressures are bigger, like all that is true. But at the end of the day, to win in this marketplace, the company has to be innovative across all the departments, right? All the people. And that means not just the cool people, but it means all of us. And I love the way you said that. We call them everyday innovators because that’s what we all are. We’re all innovators in some way. And I think for a lot of us, we just trained ourselves out of it over time. In fact. So there was a super cool study that I found that it’s so fascinating.

So in schools, teachers, they ask them to rank what are the most important skills for your students. And of course, creativity was at the top. Then they ask them to rank their students on which ones were the most creative. Then they ask them to rank how much they liked those students. And sure enough, the kids that were ranked highest and creativity were ranked lowest in terms of teachers liking them. And don’t get me wrong, this is not about teachers being bad. If 30 kids, 35 kids in a classroom, they’re just trying to like manage to the test these days. That’s a system issue, which we can talk about another time. But what was fascinating to me is it’s because when you’re being innovative as a kid, you’re being disruptive. You’re not following the rules, you are thinking differently. You require different learning styles. So at a very early age, most of us are taught to fit within that little box and to not be innovative.

There are consequences for being innovative. Yet it’s our greatest competitive advantage. So over years, and I hear it all the time, people go, Tamara, you know Jenn’s innovative, you know, with her cool outfits and stuff, but not me. Like I’m not the innovative one. I’m just in engineering, and I just do my job. But it’s because we’ve been trained over time to think that. But it’s actually all our research has actually shown that that’s not true at all. We all have it, and it’s our greatest competitive advantage, not just for performing at our peak. So that’s one part of it. But also for having a stronger voice in the world because when we innovate, that’s how we actually contribute.

Jenn DeWall:                     Great. What a powerful way to look at it. I actually have never really gone back and thought about childhood, and that really how it had been stopped – You know, I never thought about how early you’re, whether you’re going to be innovative starts — and even coming down to liking those creative kids or disliking them. Because they are the ones that maybe are thinking a little differently or seeing things in a way that maybe you could try something differently. And how we don’t always like change or someone that’s going to go against the grain but, dang. So we kill innovation young!

Designated Innovators Aren’t the Answer

Tamara Ghandour:           Fast. And we do it in schools. And again, it’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s actually the system fault. We do it in universities, and then we do at work because we’re always looking for the right answer. We’re looking for the thing that will please the boss. Leadership accidentally -we can dig more into this- looks for one way of doing things, which is usually their way. Because that’s what they know.

So we do all these things to actually sabotage our innovation efforts and not get it out of all the people. And here’s the thing that kind of blows my mind. So you know, oftentimes I’ll go into companies, and they’ll have a team of “innovators,” right? I know you can’t see me on a podcast, but I have my air quotes out, which I’m serious, my air quotes out, right? But like the special people who are designated to innovate. And the challenge with that, that I find is, so you’ve got five hundred five thousand five hundred thousand whatever new organization and you’re only asking six people to innovate. Like why wouldn’t you tap the five thousand, ten thousand whatever that you have access to who are doing the work every single day?

And I’ll just share with you very quickly after a workshop that I did with this there’s actually a group of companies that came together. This woman came up to me and said, Hey, Tamara, I want to know what you think. I’m at a law firm. We just designated a committee of people to be innovators because, as an innovation committee, because we know we need to change, right? The way we’re doing things isn’t working anymore. And so their job is to go kind of assess the company where there’s opportunities to innovate and then report back to us so that we can change what we’re doing. What do you think about that? And I asked her, well before I answer that, what do you think about that? And Jenn, you could see her body language visibly change. She slumped over, and this is a very senior woman at this firm, and she said, actually, it makes me feel pretty miserable. It’s basically telling me that I don’t have any ideas even though I’m the one doing the work. She said it’s really demoralizing. I’ve actually been really frustrated going to work because I feel like, well, why should I wait for them? What about me? I have ideas too. So when we kind of lock innovation down to a couple people and not open it up to the rest of us, we’re not just kind of not tapping all the power that we have, but we’re. Also, there’s a side impact of demoralizing people without even meaning to do it.

Jenn DeWall:                     Right, and you’re demoralizing the people that actually might share those nuggets that are so valuable.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yes- because they think about it all the time!

Jenn DeWall:                     Yeah. You can probably think of- I’m sure you can do it better than I can. So many companies that you just didn’t think about, maybe ask one question that if you just asked it to a different person outside of that room, how you would have had a drastically different result.

Tamara Ghandour:           So I will tell you, and maybe I should wait for the fails episode, or just talk about it again. Here’s the thing. I used to be an innovation consultant, where I would give new product ideas and new service ideas. So they would hire us for lots of money, and we’d go away and do magical research and think differently. And then we’d come back with these beautiful PowerPoint presentations with these brilliant often, very brilliant ideas. And I’m not saying that because my team created them. It wasn’t me. It was the work, but they never went anywhere. And then, one day, I did a workshop where really all I did was facilitate.

I didn’t come up with the ideas. I created the foundation and the exercises and the flow and poked and prodded where needed. But I didn’t come up with anything. The team sitting in that room who are thinking about the work came up with all the ideas, and they were resilient and innovative and breakthrough and even better, they actually got implemented because they were there. They were just either hidden, or they were shoved aside, or they just weren’t given the permission or the opportunity to bring up those ideas. So I love it when that happens because people come up to me after like, that was the best session ever. And I’m going, I know- and you did all the work! Like that’s amazing. But it’s really because the ideas and the innovation are there, but we’ve got to find a way to give people permission to innovate in the room to innovate so that they have, they have the ability to actually bring them out.

Jenn DeWall:                     Yes, absolutely. Finding and tapping into every available resource that we have instead of just limiting ourselves to the five or six people that might be on one designated team.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah, I mean, I basically put myself out of business and the other side consulting! Wait, hold on!

Jenn DeWall:                     No, I, but I love that it’s such a people- such an inclusive way, right? That this even sounds like a way that you talked about the demoralizing aspect. The more that we can invite people to the table, the more that we can build engagement, the more that we can improve turnover. You know, it’s not just innovation that has, that has positively impacted- they impacted so many other areas. So I love, I just love like touching on how innovation can really move us forward and help those individuals have a voice and see where that- what other positive consequences that can happen as a result of that.

How Innovation Improves Employee Engagement

Tamara Ghandour:           It’s interesting that you talked about engagement because you’re absolutely right. What we found is that companies that allow their people to innovate give them the room to do that permission to truly do that, and we’ll talk more about what that is. They actually have higher engagement and much less turnover and higher productivity at the end of the day, too. So all of it goes in the right direction. And I think it’s partially because frankly we as humans, we want to contribute. Like we, I mean it doesn’t feel really good when like something in your house breaks and you like MacGyver the heck out of it, and you find a solution. You’re like, yeah, I did that. That was me. But that’s because you’re coming up with a creative solution. You’re doing creative problem solving and critical thinking and actually as humans that actually taps the reward center of our brain. So physiologically, we actually love to innovate and create. And we love doing it and everything we do, it actually makes us feel good.

Jenn DeWall:                     Oh my gosh. I wonder how- this is just an “I wonder,” it’s not a question that I expect you to answer, Tamara. But you know saying that, and if it really truly taps into our reward system, I wonder how that could even be seen as something of an equal value in terms of a reward and recognition strategy. Like understanding that you know, if you, instead of just the standard incentives like money, additional time off, that even looking at, Hey, here’s your opportunity to invest or to innovate, to be creative, that is actually something that can give them that sense of value. That sounds like meaning that might mean as much to them as maybe your pay raise does.

Tamara Ghandour:           So one of the things that we found in our work, is that when it comes to employees and teams contributing people, so the challenge that we have as leaders is we say, let’s not ask everybody, because we’re not going to do all their ideas, right? We can’t do everybody’s. I can’t be inundated with sticky notes. Like I just, this isn’t going to work. So let’s not, let’s just ask a few people who have bigger picture. But here’s what we found. People actually don’t need to be right. They need to be heard, and they need to be valued. So it’s actually okay to collect it all. And frankly, you never know where a great idea is going to come from. So again, I think it’s a real mistake to not ask all those people because you just don’t know. And oftentimes I think the best solutions come from the places that you least expect.

Tamara Ghandour:           But also if you then go back out and say, “Hey, we’re not doing these ideas, we’re doing these, but here’s why: people feel really valued and really heard. So I think we, we set this barrier of, of, well people need their ideas. If they don’t have their ideas moving forward, then they’re going to be mad. So we can’t do that. Because then we’re going to have a lot of mad people. But it’s actually quite the opposite. If you create a real innovation feedback loop where you close it at the end by telling them, Hey, got all submissions, here’s what we’re actually going to do.

Jenn DeWall:                     That brings to mind to even how we do solicit that feedback. Because I’ve seen in my career the opposite- where people will avoid asking people for feedback because they know that they’re not necessarily going to be your first line champions, right? Like they aren’t going to like it. So we just won’t ask them. Whereas invite them to the table, let them poke holes at what you’re doing. I mean, I don’t even, I can’t even scratch the surface in terms of innovation knowledge, but I can say that thing like bring them to the table. You want their view considered.

Tamara Ghandour:           So here’s the funny part about that. And I’m smiling because I have a whole story around that. So yes. And here’s what I’ve learned the hard way. So I’m the, oh my gosh, anything’s possible. Let’s come up with all the possibilities, right person, I want all the positivity in the world. And I used to get really frustrated by those other people. “They”, right?

Jenn DeWall:                     The naysayers-

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah – “they” don’t get it. “They,” think that’ll never work. I call it the “They Syndrome.” That’s what we suffer from. Those of us who are the “Yes, and…” people. In innovation, we’re always taught to go for the “yes and,” but the reality is we need the “yes, but-ers” to fill the holes because we’re not seeing the whole picture. But here’s what I learned with the more analytical, the ones who poke holes, the ones who you know, every time you come up with an idea though, like “bad idea,” right? That won’t work. It won’t work. Well, they’ll never go for it. Like all of it. You have to change your language when you talk to them so that you can get them into solution mode with you. So when I’m talking to those group of “yes, but-ers” and again, I value them, I need them. I can’t do it alone. I’ve learned that the hard way. But when I go to them I say, Hey Jenn, here’s my idea. What holes do you see, and how would you fill it.

I asked them out of the gate because what they’ll do is they’ll find the holes, but if I ask them to find the- to figure out how to fill it, they’ll do that with me, too. The mistake we make, because we go, well they didn’t get it, they yes, butted it as opposed to taking it to the next place and saying, how would you solve that? How would you fix that? And here’s my- my kids always make fun of me. They’re like, you’re always so tough love, do you have to be like an all the time? But here’s my tough love thing- that “they syndrome” that we suffer from just hinders innovation as the people trying to move an idea forward. Whatever it is, whether that’s an internal process, a new product to market, it’s our job to get those people involved. We need to take ownership of that. So it’s our job to get those yes, but-ers to help us figure it out. And it’s also our job to not get upset when they say this is the part I don’t like because that’s valuable information. And you’re right, they should all be at the table.

Jenn DeWall:                     And I think even going, being able to take your ego out of it, I think it’s easy if you do what you had just recommended instead of saying like, gosh, they’re going to look and poke holes, but asking them, here’s my idea, can you please poke holes in it? Right. That puts totally different energy into it when you’re like, yeah, I want them there. Well, let’s do this. Let’s make something better than what we, what I possibly thought of.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah. And your point there is the important one. It’s about getting rid of the ego because the ego kills innovation all the time in all forms because we just get so wrapped up in like, this is my baby, don’t call my baby ugly and this has to be perfect. And all these things when it doesn’t actually have to be Any of those.

Jenn DeWall:                     Right. Well and I found, and I try to, you know, instill this in when I work with the younger generation, when they might have an idea and that I might spin it and they’re like, oh, I guess that is better. I’m like, no, your idea is what allowed me to think differently about this. Like it’s a combination. All it is is a ripple effect. Right? And that’s the great thing. That’s poking holes, that’s new ideas. It’s all it is, is a continuous build. But it all does have to come with, you know, taking yourself out of the equation and looking at what are we trying to achieve. It’s not just about what am I trying to achieve.

How Your Primal Brain Hinders Innovation

Tamara Ghandour:           So, you know, it’s funny that you say that about that poking holes thing because, so we have this challenge where we have this primal brain, this lizard brain, and I like to think of it as a bodyguard, and that bodyguard’s job in our mind is to keep us safe and comfortable and warm, and it’s trying to block out anything that doesn’t match our view or bumps up, bumps up against our identity. So when we go to people with new ideas, and we’re like, hey, we’re going to change everything. We’re doing breakthrough. We’re like, forget everything you’ve done to make this company successful. We’re going to go in a whole different direction. We’re bumping up that bodyguard in their brain that’s saying, Whoa, I don’t like this. So I think oftentimes when we feel resistance to change or new ideas, it’s because we haven’t figured out a way to get through the bodyguard. To say, oh okay, that person is resistant because that primal brain of theirs trying to keep them safe, and comfortable.

It is primitive. We cannot get rid of that part. You know? And if we do things though and say like, Hey, what you said made me think about this and take it in this direction. Hey, the results you got in this- made me take it over here. Or like you said, Hey, I’m just spring-boarding off of what you said. We pushed the bodyguard aside. So it’s funny to kind of, as we’re talking about all of this, it’s making me realize, and I talk a lot about this in my books and in my keynotes, innovation has its own language, and we have to figure out how to communicate with people in a way that gets buy-in for our idea. So, you know, when we’re talking about the naysayers, and we’re talking about legacy people and the lizard brain, it really is all about how do you use your language in a way that doesn’t shut people down, but make them open to the conversation because that’s really what you need to get momentum to get action on innovation.

And oftentimes what I see in companies when I go in, it’s just a bunch of primal brains just battling each other and trying to stay comfortable and safe and whatever it is they’re doing because I don’t know about you, but in fact, this happened to me this morning because I’m guilty of it too. Laura, who works for me- my business manager called me and said, Hey, I have an idea, duh, duh, duh, duh, and I automatically, Whoa! Hmm. I don’t know because what I heard was I’m going to change how you have to do things and give you more work. That’s not what she was saying. Her idea was actually brilliant, but I’m, that’s what I heard, and I had to take a second push, my bodyguard, aside and go, Oh, Oh wait, let’s talk about this for a minute, but my initial reaction was abort, abort! No! It won’t Work!

Jenn DeWall:                     Yes, I know, and it’s so funny, people really do not talk about our primitive state, the psychological need for- to be seen and heard, and to feel safe. It’s almost like we talk about leadership, innovation, communication in a vacuum, and we forget that you’re dealing with a complex human being that has natural ways that their brain is going to process that is so far beyond what we can even comprehend. It’s so much more advanced and to think that we, you know, you have to recognize it like why we don’t, and I think there is more of a movement. People are working to be more mindful and to recognize that, but at the end of the day, like you have to make people feel seen and heard if you want anything to be successful. That’s exactly right, and that goes to your comment earlier about getting the ego out of it too.

Tamara Ghandour:           And that, Jenn, is why when we developed our business and the assessment that tells people how they innovate, we dove not into the high-level case studies culture of it. We dove into neuroscience and brain mechanics and behavioral psychology and change behavior. We wanted to understand how we as humans innovate and how we get over those hurdles, how we, how we at LaunchStreet create tools to help people get over those hurdles so they can leverage that strength that they already have inside of them. And I think we do ourselves a huge disservice when we focus on this big picture. Like this is how Google innovates, so this is how all of us have to innovate. Like good for Google, don’t get me wrong. Like they’ve changed the game, but that’s one company doing one way, and that doesn’t tell me as an individual, well, that’s great that they have this culture of shared bikes. How, how do I implement innovation with their shared bikes? Right, right. So, and they’re great at all levels, so they’re a wonderful case study, but we have to figure out how to get humans to innovate. And that’s actually the more sustainable and more scalable approach to innovation. It’s not the culture, and it’s not the process. Those things will naturally come out if you start with the people.

Jenn DeWall:                     Always start with the people. It’s a foundation thing. And I love it. You touched on the IQE assessment, which I want to get more into, but I really want to get into what we had planned to talk about!

Tamara Ghandour:           Oh yeah, we had planned some stuff, right?

The Four Traps of Certainty That Kill Innovation

Jenn DeWall:                     But I love our conversation, where’d we go with that? Okay. We’re trying to get back here. No, but because I think that this is such an important topic to bring forward to all of our listeners talking about the four traps of certainty that are essentially, I think you had said like the barriers to innovation. And I want to dive into that cause I know that our listeners will find a lot of value. So, Tamara, you’ve talked about the four traps of certainty. What are those? What’s the first one? What is the first trap of certainty that people fall into?

Certainty Trap 1: Innovation is Only for Certain People

Tamara Ghandour:           So we’ve hinted at it, and I think the beginning of our conversation too, the first trap is that innovation is for certain people. So that’s usually, you know, Miranda with a cool streak in her hair and the funky glasses who goes to all the cool cafes.

Jenn DeWall:                     She’s soo creative.

Tamara Ghandour:           Not me- but she is so, or it’s, you know, the person with the awesome title, like VP of Brand New Ideas or Head of Enthusiasm, which I ran across that title the other day. I still don’t know what it means, but I could have that title. But we equate innovation with, you know, these people who are bestowed with these magical powers from the beginning. And that is, that’s a total myth. It’s actually not the reality. And as we talked about in the beginning, it actually hinders innovation across your organization in a lot of ways. First of all, you’re only tapping a certain amount of people. And second, you’re actually demoralizing everybody else by telling specifically telling them or accidentally that they are not innovative and then they’re not the ones that contribute. So, you know, it’s a major myth that you’re born with a certain way that it’s only for certain people. It’s actually for all of us. And if we just looked into our day to day lives, we’d see moments of innovation across our lives. But then we get to work, and we’re not the innovative ones. And I’ll tell you a quick story on it.

And this happened to me years ago. So I was working in brand strategy and innovation in New York, and I was fairly new to the company I was six months in. So I was at that phase, where I was still super excited and just absolutely so, and I was working on this one team, but we had an all-team meeting, and I had this boss who was a super petite woman. I towered over her, but she had a love of hierarchy. She was so imposing the hierarchy, and I over the weekend had found this opportunity for another team. I just happened to come across it, and I was so excited to bring it to the meeting on Monday. So we shuffle into the meeting. All the teams are there. We’re kind of giving these debriefs to how things are going. And I raised my hand, and I start to share this opportunity for the other team.

This super innovative idea that I thought I’d found for them. And granted it wasn’t fully thought out. It was just a nugget. I was young, probably didn’t know what I was talking about, but I was excited to share it. Before I could finish my sentence. My boss, with her love of hierarchy, stopped me and said, Tamara, this is not your job. Don’t worry about being innovative. I need you to do the tasks that we agreed to. That’s their job to come up with that stuff. And we- meaning the directors will like look for the new opportunities. Shut it down. And everybody in the room was like, yep. Like nobody argued about it. It wasn’t because she was different than everybody else or her perspective. And that moment I shut down because suddenly I’ve been told not to be innovative because I’m not of that pattern or that, you know, I’m not the stones of magical power or title.

And so I think unfortunately we do that even in our day to day meetings without realizing it. We know that people- a couple of people that do it best in the company or those innovative people we’re not, right? We know that, but we even do it on a day to day basis without realizing it. And what our work in research has really come to uncover is that everybody’s innovative. It’s a whole-brain experience. The all the imaging that we’ve done on the brain proves that we all do it. And the interesting part about it is it actually intelligence and innovation have two different structures in our brain.

Jenn DeWall:                     No way.

Tamara Ghandour:           is that cool. I was so excited because I thought, Oh, thank God. So people like me who are not the smartest people in the room can still be innovative. So intelligence, think of it as like deep grooves a highway, right? Superhighways where innovation is more like side rows loosely connected across your brain. But when they show people across all different types of styles, everybody has a structure. So we all innovate. It’s actually really common. We just have this myth that is for certain people that needs to be debunked.

Jenn DeWall:                     Yeah. So one of the first places that we have to start with, I mean at the individual level going back is deprogramming our brains from how we’ve been, or excuse me, reprogramming, I mean, to overcompensate for all of the times that we’ve been told or put in the corner or saying, you know, don’t be too creative or you’re, you know, when you’re doing this, this isn’t your place to be. And I could almost see the young Tamara that’s so bright-eyed. And so excited, it’s like a shriveling flower, right? That’s how everyone starts in an organization. They are this beautiful flower and over time and then the piece of innovation over time, as they offer their ideas and they’re completely shunned that flower closes and you’re no longer wanting to see its beauty, and you’re going to continue to see weeds or the same ideas over and over. But it’s all ego. Check your ego at the door.

Tamara Ghandour:           There’s this mistake that it’s this magical thing that some people are born with, and some aren’t. And the truth is we all have it. And what we’ve also seen is so well the brain isn’t technically a muscle. It acts like one in this case. So the more, the more activity innovative activity we give it, the more we exercise it, the stronger it gets. So some of us might feel, might be thinking, okay, Tamara, that’s great, but I just don’t, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel innovative. I’m not doing it on a daily basis. And you might be right, but it’s because those muscles that, that part of your brain is just weak. That’s it. So you just got to exercise it a little bit, and then it gets stronger and stronger and stronger. And that’s what we see over time with our clients is that the ones where we go in, and the team is feeling really just well stuck in the old way is once they start activating it over and over again, it becomes strong and then it becomes second nature.

Jenn DeWall:                     So it’s practice.

Certainty Trap 2: Innovation is for Certain Times

Tamara Ghandour:           It’s practice, which leads to myth number two, a certainty number two, which is that it’s for certain times, and I like to think of it as an, I’m sure you’ve experienced this, it’s that 3:00 PM brainstorm with the scented markers and the blank legal pads. One moment you’re supposed to be innovative and breakthrough. And the poor person who’s leading the meeting, who’s not a facilitator, it’s probably a team member warms you up with some ridiculous exercise. And I’ve done this, so I’m not judging it. Like, okay, well, if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be? Or if you could be any animal in the who would it be? And then suddenly you’re supposed to go to these blank legal pads and fill it with this amazing genius of innovation. But it doesn’t happen because we’ve had our head down all day and then suddenly 3:00 PM we’re expecting this magic to happen when those muscles had been dormant for so long. So we got to get out of this idea that innovation is a point in time exercise and make it a part of everything that we do.

Tamara Ghandour:           The best innovation happens every day when we’re doing the work when we’re thinking about all the things. So we got to get out of that, that mentality that Hey, it needs scented markers, which by the way, I love them. Watermelon’s my favorite. I don’t do any workshops without them. They’re my favorite. But that’s not the only time innovation happens at all actually.

Jenn DeWall:                     Well and just think that even if you think about how dynamic that brain is in general, I love that you touched on how dormant it is, but the fact that our brain is different on any given day based on what we were focused on, what our experience was. So to expect that someone’s going to be able to come forward to you at three o’clock every Thursday, when they could have a lovely idea at 8 am Monday you’re completely missing because you’re not giving the opportunity to, I guess, what would that be on, on-demand innovation. Or like Just in Time Innovation, there’s a book idea.

Tamara Ghandour:           Exactly. I’m leaping ahead a little bit. We’ll get into it about the leadership tools. We have this innovation feedback loop. That’s all about that like gathering when people are thinking about them, and you don’t need to wait and the myth of certain times shuts down innovation because you’re telling people, not in those other times and only now and then everybody’s frustrated because you get together during those times and it doesn’t work. I mean, how many times if you’ve left those sessions going well, we didn’t get what we needed like that didn’t go well.

Jenn DeWall:                     And people are just asking the wrong like there were completely off-topic. We’re in a completely different aspect, and I feel like there has to be a little bit of stage fright that comes in because no lecture, you’ve got to dump everything that makes you magical, bright, shiny.

Tamara Ghandour:           In an hour.

Jenn DeWall:                     In an hour! At three o’clock. And if you don’t do it now, you’re going to have to wait and you might, self-doubt might kick in by that point in time. Here’s something else. And so it might be completely gone, and a beautiful idea is lost.

Tamara Ghandour:           I think oftentimes it’s interesting that you bring that up. I think a couple of things happen. I think, first of all, most of us don’t make room for the introverts in the room. So if you’re like me, you suck the air out of a room and talk out. You know, I think out loud

Jenn DeWall:                     Same! We have an introvert in our room right now. It’s like don’t make eye contact He’s just laughing at us.

Tamara Ghandour:           But we don’t make room for them. And then they walk away feeling even more frustrated because they know that we’re looking at them going, well, why aren’t you adding value? Christopher? Come on like, why aren’t you speaking? But that’s not how they process. So we don’t even make the room for the people who need more time or just need to maybe put it on paper first before they say it out loud. I think that’s challenge number one. I think the other challenge is a big one is we’re so busy trying to look smart. We’re so afraid of looking stupid, ridiculous. Like we don’t know our stuff in front of our colleagues that we often say things with that frame of mind, and that shuts down innovation, new ideas.

Oh, this is so ridiculous. But years ago, years, many years, more years than I care to count. When I got into college, it was UC Berkeley, and I was convinced I shouldn’t be there, and we had this anthropology class. It was 800 people or something, and so we had these small study groups with the grad students that ran up, and they would give us these assignments, and we had to come in and tell us, tell them what we thought of this. I met, and I was so worried that people would figure out I shouldn’t belong there because I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t good enough. All those kinds of things came up. I wanted to be smart in front of this group. This was the smart people. I needed to be smart that when I came back and presented my, my homework, my view on this assignment, it was so off. It was embarrassing, but it was off because I was too busy trying to look smart, and had I gone with just really thinking through and saying and believing that my ideas were good, good enough in the moment. However, they were, I would have at least been able to contribute to the conversation. But instead, I was trying to be smart. And we see that like fast forward into meetings today where we get into a room, and we want to be smart. Of course, we want to be smart in front of our colleagues. It’s a natural inclination, but without the right space and the right tools that shuts down innovation. And then you end up with bad ideas because they’re not coming from a place of really solving the problems.

Jenn DeWall:                     Oh, gotcha. And that’s just making me think of like that natural perfectionist, right? That wants to make everything not only attractive so they can feel like they fit in or that they are worthy of being in the company of their peers. But also then how we look at innovation as something that you can’t bring a product to market until it’s 100% perfect and then that’s when you watch someone else have an idea that’s close to yours and go the other way. And it’s just how often are the beautiful, amazing perfectionists. I say this to them because they need the reassurance that they’re great even though they fail. After all, that’s what we all have. But how often did they miss out on their opportunities to even be innovators? Because there’s so much dang pressure to find the nest. Next big million-dollar idea. Yeah.

Tamara Ghandour:           We often worry that our ideas aren’t perfect, and then what we do is we shut it down, so we don’t say it in the meeting. We don’t pursue it because we think, well, I just need to figure out this next thing, right? I just need to figure out this next part of it, and then I can actually bring it to market. The challenge is really twofold. One is from a business perspective, somebody is going to beat you to it. Like the playing field for businesses, even right now, it doesn’t matter if your small or big. You’re all competing. So if you’re going to wait until it’s perfect, I guarantee you somebody else has already done it, and they’re going to take your market share before you even had a chance to grab it. I think I’m on the individual level as well. The reality is there’s this chasm and innovation between the conference room and the real world.

Tamara Ghandour:           And in the conference room, we try to make things perfect, but in the real world, things are never perfect. So even if we perfected on our PowerPoint with all the beautiful data and everything we think is perfect and all our hypotheses, once it goes into battle, right, it all falls apart. So to wait for it to be quote-unquote perfect, doesn’t make any sense anyway because you need the marketplace to tell you what’s going to work. I think I think it was Mike Tyson that said it best. Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face.

Jenn DeWall:                     No, but it’s true because that is what happens!

Tamara Ghandour:           That’s perfectionism. Its over-planning and over assessing. I’m all for planning and being thoughtful, but the marketplace and whether that marketplace, by the way, is testing an internal process with some of your other team members or your customer, they’re the ones who will protect it and optimize it for you. Not you. You can’t do it. It’s impossible.

Jenn DeWall:                     Can you move too fast?

Tamara Ghandour:           Can you move too fast? Yes. I think there’s a balance. I think there’s a balance between moving fast and being thoughtful. I’m often. Sometimes I think there’s people get fall into this trap of fail fast, fail forward, like all those kind of platitudes that are out there right now, which actually drives me nuts because I think they set us up for just speed, but there’s a balance between speed and intelligence or thoughtfulness. And I think we need to balance the two because you can fail fast. But for what? For what purpose? What did you learn? What did you change? How did you, how did you pivot? So I think you need to be nimble, but that speed needs to come with moments of intelligence with it too.

Jenn DeWall:                     Okay. No, that was just my curiosity because I think that always is, everyone kind of feels that they’re, you know, they grapple with that. Like is it more important for me to get this to market? And you knew it is, it is finding that balance, but it’s not pitching a tent until your idea is fully fleshed out and then packing up and getting ready to go back home and like watch it. You have to, you know like you need to get it out there. You can’t make everything perfect.

Certainty Trap 3: Innovation is for Certain Segments

Tamara Ghandour:           And I also think it matters how you do it. So I think there are some businesses that are really good at putting stuff to market or testing stuff in a way that their customers know. This is round one, and customers are incredibly helpful. I think we, in business, we put up this weird invisible wall between us and the customer and we say, well, it has to be perfect before it goes out into the world, but they’re actually really willing to come along the journey with us. They should be a part of the process from day one. First of all, it makes us more innovative when we think about things from their perspective. And it’s a little bit off on a tangent we’ll go back to before a certain day. But I was talking to somebody about this the other day who runs events and festivals in Texas, and he was talking about bringing me in for a keynote, and he said, you know, the challenge we have is we look at everything as the bottom line, the number on the P and L. So drinks is one line. ticket sales is another line. Booths is another line. He said, but that’s not how the customer sees it. So we shut down innovation because we’re over there pretending like the customer doesn’t exist. We’re just looking at a P. And, L, this is how we segment things. So this is how we’re going to think about it. But that’s not how their customers think about it. Their customers think about the whole experience. So to bring innovation to thrive, we’ve got to bring that voice in as well. So we got off track on the certainties, but the four traps. But there’s, so to go back to those, so there’s certain people which we talked about certain times and then there’s also certain segments. That’s the third one, and certain segments is we think innovation score marketing and R and D and the innovation lab, right? The places where we kind of have come to expect it and know it.

What I found in my work that the best innovation happens from the places you least expect. So one of my favorite clients is Schneider Electric. They do big energy packages often to public works companies, municipalities. And one of my clients over there brought the IQE assessment and some of our work to his engineering team. And as he said it to me, so Tamara, this is a team of super-smart people that nobody taps for innovation. It’s not who we think about. And sure enough, after kind of being given permission and some tools to innovate, they came up with some incredible solutions for the rest of the company. So, you know, we think of it as like certain departments, but the reality is those the best innovations happen in places that you least expect it. Another one of my clients, some of the best innovations that saved the company millions of dollars came from their internal auditing teams. So operational excellence team, they’re not customer facing, it’s not sexy, but they’re the ones that are driving innovation. So we’ve got to get out of this mindset that, you know, Marketing, R and D and Innovation, the cool departments get to be the innovators and bring it to the rest of the business.

Jenn DeWall:                     Well in recognize the faults and just relying in one department because the natural fault that can happen if you go back to even an organizational structure of hiring people, hire people that are most like themselves sometimes if they don’t have that mindful practice. And so then all of a sudden before you know it, you have a million people on your R and D team that all have the same attitude and they get along great. But your innovation efforts start to go back a little bit. And I think companies forget about that, that there are natural disconnects that occur in the workplace because of how humans operate. Again, going back to like our own mind and how that impacts everything, but knowing that if you just do that, you’re putting a lot of risk in your innovation efforts.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah, you absolutely are. And what we’ve found is that ideas have come from birds of a feather tend to die. And there are holes in them, major holes in them. Because to your point, we’re all seeing it from the same perspective. We’re looking at the same information from the same perspective, with the same experiences behind us, right? So we’re not seeing the whole picture for innovation to thrive, we actually have to tap the power of diversity of thinking. And that can happen in a lot of different ways. That can happen by tapping different innovators style. So you innovate in one way. I innovate in another way and really making sure that we’re leveraging that it can happen by different tapping, different departments, different types of people. And you’re absolutely right. And it’s interesting. We found that different departments have different patterns of how they innovate, and that’s great, but to your point, we could open up the diversity of thinking by opening up who gets to innovate and who’s part of that.

Jenn DeWall:                     Again, I what came to mind earlier when you were talking about this certain people, if I like that I’m going to walk away with is one of the things I always like to assume this is a little tangent is assume positive intent, right? That people are coming to you, but in the case of innovation, it’s assuming innovative ability, right? Just baseline. That is an assumption that we should make on every single person that we interact with because otherwise, we may be missing out on an opportunity. Now that’s not to say again that we’re going to get every, you know that everyone is going to have a great idea, but if we don’t start with that, Then curiosity, we’re never going to be able to hear some of those ideas.

Tamara Ghandour:           I love that, that positive intent. It’s absolutely true. And I think what we found, what we found anyway is that if we start with that, they start to grow into that. So as leaders, if we start to assume that of our teams and give them a little bit of room to play that way, they’ll actually get there. So, and it may not happen overnight, it probably won’t happen overnight, but they will over time if you start to treat them that way, they’ll respond with that way. And, but we expect it to happen at that 3:00 PM brainstorm and said in the marketing department would that cool person. And that’s really not how it works.

Jenn DeWall:                     Coming to three o’clock, I’ll bring the popcorn and markers-

Tamara Ghandour:           I’ve got some Legos on the table… And I’m not saying we shouldn’t have meetings where we come together, we should, but we absolutely should. That’s missing the other 99% of the time that we have the opportunity to innovate right. So why would we, why would we do that?

Jenn DeWall:                     You’re not there. And going back to the segments piece, I think of this because it’s- it’s a more, it just is the example that tops my mind in terms of a recent example of a celebrity, but Kim Kardashian- and she started her new shapewear line, and she wanted to call that Kimono as a play off of her own name. Well had she actually brought someone to the table. She would have recognized that kimono was actually offensive, but you know, and she didn’t ask, she didn’t ask, she didn’t have the right people in the room, but she had all of her fans. So that goes back down to the likeminded people. All the fans loved it. Oh my gosh, do that. Then all of a sudden, you know, right before it came down to her launch. So a lot of money is invested on, I’m sure on her product packaging everything that they needed for marketing, and then they had to change their name to Skimwear, you know, all of it could have been resolved by having that diversity at the table.

Tamara Ghandour:           I think it’s such a good point, and I think that if you look at, particularly in marketing because they’re the ones that we all kind of know, right? We see them on TV or on YouTube or whatever. If we look at the fails, it’s exactly that. So I’m just going to pick on Peloton for a second because they have one right now happening and I like Peloton. This is not about that. This is about this one specific ad, but it’s been fascinating to see there’s been this huge backlash against it.

Jenn DeWall:                     The newest ad?

Tamara Ghandour:           Have you seen it? So I watched it again to try to understand like why are people so outraged by this ad? And I think it’s exactly what you just said. It’s a very specific sliver point of view that didn’t think through how that might be interpreted to a bigger audience because they I would suspect did not have the diversity of thinking of the table or didn’t have a tool to allow them to kind of expand their thinking a little bit. And we’ll see how it all plays out. It’s like not my commentary about the ad, but it all over the social media, right now.

Jenn DeWall:                     Oh my gosh. And there are so many, just different like memes and gifs all about that. And I mean there’s a point where, Hey, publicity is great, but then there’s a point where.

Tamara Ghandour:           it’s not always when you are picked over – but those, and you look at, yeah, Pepsi when they- I mean it is marketing’s easy example because we see it, all of us see it. But when you look at those examples, it makes you realize, yeah, maybe also years and years ago I was working for a large soda company, and I’ll never forget being in the room with them. We’re coming up with campaigns for one of their big sodas. And it was a. I’m 47 now. I was 20 when this happened. So I called them old at the time and now I realize they really weren’t. That’s okay. But it was a bunch of 50 year old boomers coming up with ads for up and coming, I think it was gen Y at the time, because I’m a gen X or so, but the young audience. Right. And you kept hearing them say things like, well, “they” like, well “they,” and I just remember sitting in that room thinking, huh, Oh my gosh, none of you are the target market, and you’re all making this decision based on like this one, your experience and your perspective. There was no diversity of thinking in the room at all. I think often times that’s where the failures happen is because we, we didn’t see the whole thing. We didn’t invite the whole picture to have a voice at the table.

Jenn DeWall:                     And how often does that happen in organizations where the people that are in the boardroom or in their upper management levels are making decisions for the people they’re trying to serve, and they have no idea who that person is. Yeah. And then it’s just, you know, it’s just kind of like raining money then I wish I could be on the receiving end, catch all the wasted money. But you are wasting a lot of valuable resources that could be leveraged in so many different ways if you just had the right people in the room.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah. And it’s, and it’s about to your point, it’s about diversity of thinking. So teams that have diversity of thinking have stronger solutions, they have more productivity. There’s a lot that happens when you have that. Studies have actually shown that, and that diversity of thinking goes beyond what is also important, which is kind of the ones we see at the surface, which is kind of race, gender, age, kind of all of those. Those are all extremely important. But it’s also making sure that you’re tapping into cognitive diversity as well. We all have different thinking patterns. In fact, interestingly, the brain is like the thumb, no different. Every brain is unique. So none of us are wired in exactly the same way. So we’ve got to find ways to tap each other and that diversity in our brains because that’s going to get us that at the table. And sometimes, we stop at the surface, and we don’t dig deeper to find it. So you may have it in your organization and just not be using it because they don’t have the title

Jenn DeWall:                     Or you know, remembering. And you know, the thing that I always think is so interesting about the title perspective is that we forget that there is so much value in the people that do not have the preexisting experience and judgments already made. Like, ask them, even if you are like, okay well that may have some validity, may not have some validity because you do have the experience or evaluate it, but those people are going to see things that you have long like blinded yourself from being able to see.

Tamara Ghandour:           Well, and I find that you know, as my company grows, I feel more and more removed. So I need those people who are doing it day to day who are, they’re the ones connecting with the customers. They’re the ones who, who are fielding the challenges and see the opportunities. I need my frontline staff to give me their innovation, and it’s my job to tap that and get that out of them. But they have incredible ideas for me, and I’ve got a major, my responsibility is to get it out of them, but why wouldn’t I? They, I’m removed at this point, right? I’m working. I’m playing over here. They’re the ones doing the day to day. So, of course, they have all the brilliance and they have zero titles relatively speaking, but that’s even better. And if you look at some of great innovations that have happened over time, but from frontline staff, so I once saw Kat Cole, they got her name right there. She was the president of Cinnabon. I think she’s moved up since, but she was telling a story about how Cinnabon, you know, now I’m thinking about Cinnabon…

Jenn DeWall:                     Like I can smell them, I want it now talking about actually coming back from Thanksgiving, I did happen to pass a Cinnabon and we all know the smell. It was in the gas station that we stopped in.

Tamara Ghandour:           That smell like every mall smells like Cinnabon. That’s awesome. Okay. So, okay, I’m back. So their sales are flat. The way we go to malls has changed in America. The way we engage in the food court has changed. It’s all changed, and they hadn’t. So she went, she’s very smart. She went it to different malls across America to understand what was happening. And she goes to a mall in the middle of America somewhere, and some part-time cashier says to her, I think the problem is they’re not portable. Nobody stops to eat anymore. We need to put them into sticks. And sure enough that created Cinna-sticks, which I think was something, I think she said something like 30% on their bottom line. Wow. But that was that person at the bottom of the organization on the front lines who sees it and experiences it every single day. So one of the things that we work really strongly with our clients on is creating a really solid innovation feedback loop that taps, all those people and gets them to input those ideas and then to loop it to our earlier part of the conversation makes them feel valued and heard on the backend regardless of what you choose to do. Because not every idea can move forward, that’s ridiculous to think that. But your best ideas can come from there.

Jenn DeWall:                     Yes. Oh my gosh, I love this.

Certainty Trap 4: Innovation is a Certain Proccess

Tamara Ghandour:           Let’s go back. Let’s. We’ll close it up with the four traps- we’ve covered like a million things, I don’t know what time it is. Hopefully, we’re on track. So the fourth, fourth, one is certain processes. So I see this all the time. Companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latest and greatest technology, software collaboration process. The thing that they think is going to change the game for them because you know, other people do it with success.

Jenn DeWall:                     This is our golden ticket.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yes, exactly. And then I get the call. I don’t get it. We implemented this new process, but it’s just doesn’t seem to be working. So the reality is, and it goes back to everything we’ve been talking about, is people first. When you start with people, innovation scales, and it’s sustainable, and they will engage in those processes. So we often get clients who call us and say, we invest all this money. It’s not working. Now my job’s on the line. My, my reputation is on the line.

What do I do? So we come into these programs to get their people to be more innovative, and then they can get to the processes that work for them. But we expect that all the time. Don’t we. I’ll tell you, I heard on a podcast this incredible collaboration app software that I bought. This solves my problems for my company. I totally, I fell into this trap hands down. So I, I researched it, I invested in it, I spent the time to set my company up cause you know like every, every team, we all were off in our silos doing our things. It happens to all of us. I presented it to the team. We’re all super excited about it. I think we used it for 48 hours, and then nothing else ever happened ever again. And I wasted time and money, and I created initiative fatigue.

Because once again, here I am with another initiative, another initiative. And the team’s like, we don’t need any more processes to follow. But the reality is is because we hadn’t done the work to back up and say, what do we need to be and do, and how do we need to collaborate? We should have done that first. Instead, I was like, Oh, shiny thing. I’m going to invest in that. And it’s going to work. Because it’s all the buzz, but it never works. I cannot tell you the number of times I get phone calls from leaders saying, I don’t know what to do. I’ve invested in this process for the team, and it’s still not, it’s just not working, and it’s because we need to back up and get the people to be innovative.

Jenn DeWall:                     Well, and you bring up, I think something that is a problem that many organizations that causes so many issues like innovation, engagement, that is shiny object syndrome.

Tamara Ghandour:           Totally.

Jenn DeWall:                     You can kill innovation by just wanting people to follow the next big thing. Oh yeah. You talked about it as being the fatigue that happens and all the time when we’re doing that, how do you even then focus on what’s important to innovate when you’re just like, we’re always innovating, I guess. I don’t know we’re innovating. It’s just faking action without actually measuring results. Right? I mean, that’s not innovating just because you’re taking actions. So know when it’s appropriate to innovate and know the difference between innovation and just taking action.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah, and I think initiative fatigue is real for people. We are doing more with less, I think after 2008, and I see this across the globe. It’s not just in the U.S. you know, we’ve all as leaders been hesitant to over-hire, over-activate. So all of us at all levels of organizations are doing more than we’ve ever done. It’s, it is, you see it in all the productivity charts, you see it in the fatigue and the stress. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re not just layering on initiative after initiative because people can’t handle it. There’s just too many. So, and I think that’s why our work really resonates with clients is because we’re not saying here’s an initiative. We’re saying, let me give you the foundational tool to get your people to have the right mindset and the right tools to implement that mindset on a daily basis. And then the right processes and culture are going to come out of that. You need those too. But you can’t have those without the first piece. Hey, can’t put the cart before the horse. No. And it is, I mean, I learned it the hard way with that collaboration tool, which I don’t feel silly even, but, but it’s, it’s so easy for that shiny object and that new initiative to sound great.

And ultimately, here’s what also happens, and I’ve, I’ve seen this in, when we do innovation audits, we’ll do these anonymous interviews with people to get their perspective. So we don’t share who they are later because right. We don’t want to make those people feel like they need to look smart or good for their boss. And what we hear is just wait for that initiative to be done. Like, I’m just going to sit back and just wait because they’ll just get bored of it, and then a year later, we’ll have a different initiative anyway. And that happens more than we as leaders care to admit. And it’s not because we’re bad people or because we’re flighty, it’s because we’re trying to find something that works. We’re solving the wrong problems.

Jenn DeWall:                     Yeah, it’s, and I see it a lot. Just the shiny object syndrome, and then you have the fatigue, and yes I have, I have absolutely been that employee where I’m like well we just wait a few weeks. Like this will be off their radar, so it won’t matter. So I wouldn’t take any action on it. And I mean if you’re going to innovate, the thing that I think is funny and when we do have the initiatives, if it’s truly an initiative that’s of value, build in those checkpoints, building your milestones, building your key performance indicators. Because if you don’t have those, then it’s hard for me as an employee to see that we take it seriously because we’re not even measuring its impact.

Tamara Ghandour:           So I love to call that launch and abandon, and we see that time and time again, where we get super excited about something. We launch it as leaders, and it could be important, it could be the right one, but then we don’t continue to make it a priority. And whether that’s kind of a point of conversation every day, or tools that we give people, milestones, and check-ins, I’m giving people the right resources along the way, whatever it is. We don’t do that. We just launch it, and then we go, and then the rocket ship crashes back down to earth because people wait it out or they don’t do it, or they don’t get it, quote-unquote right. Because they haven’t actually been given any more guidance beyond the first launch, so you would never launch a rocket and then kill the engines two seconds later. I mean, I guess when you got to the outer space, but it’s the same in business. You don’t, we launch it, and then we abandon it.

Jenn DeWall:                     Hey, you don’t expect to just coast without putting fuel in without like moving the steering wheel.

Tamara Ghandour:           Yeah, you gotta drive it still. So I think as leaders, we need to really think about which initiatives and which innovation do we really want to push forward and what are we really willing to do to continue that. Because the other thing that we this is kind of more of a trap that we fall into is we think that once we launch it that it’s going to be this like single line straight up that everything’s going to work. This is obviously the right solution.

Jenn DeWall:                     It sounds like the same as like assumption that we make about weight loss. And my weight’s going to go consistently down, and suddenly my skin’s going to be clear, totally drink 64 ounces of water every day.

Tamara Ghandour:           Before 9:00 AM, right? And what we found about innovation and a lot of initiatives, it’s actually a J curve. It’s not a straight line up. So what happens is we launch it, people are excited, but then things don’t work out as planned. We have to do double work while we figure out the new solution and the kinks in it. So we still have to do the old work. The naysayers come out in droves, right? So we, we have to prep people for the J curve, and as leaders, that means we need to invest, we cannot launch and then walk away and expect them to make it through the J curve of innovation.

Jenn DeWall:                     I love that. That’s a great way to wrap up our podcast. Just thinking that You know, you have to really measure your results. You’ve got to invest your time and attention and follow through. It can’t just be this wishful thinking like I created it. Now it’s going to be like, okay to launch. I mean, if you think about children, we don’t birth them as a child and then expect them to be able to take care and maintain themselves. Like why would we think the same would be true for a product?

Tamara Ghandour:           And every stage is different, right? I’m hitting teenage life now with my kids, and it’s different than the toddler stage, right? It takes different investment and different requirements. Innovation is the same way.

What’s Your Leadership Habit for Success?

Jenn DeWall:                     Tamara, thank you so much for sharing the insights that you did today. For those of you that were listening, I’m going to give you additional information about how you can reach out to Tamara and how you can try and find out your own level of innovation by doing the IQE assessment. So stay tuned after we wrap, and you’re going to hear directions for how you can access that free IQE assessment. Tamara, I loved our conversation, but I have to ask you the one final question that we ask everyone, which is what is your leadership habit for success?

Tamara Ghandour:           So I created a “growth club,” which has probably been the best thing I’ve ever done. And what that means is my team, and I pick a book, a podcast, a web series, doesn’t matter. That’s what I call it, growth and not a book club, every six weeks. And we all read it, or we all watch it. And then we come together, and we discuss, and we share our notes, and we talk about what we learned. And more importantly, I think we then talk about what do we want to implement based on what we learned? How does that change how we’re going to do something? How does that improve? How are we going to do something? And it’s so basic. But I think we get so myopic in our work in our lives. It’s so easy to just have our head downs in our one little industries, and our one little jobs and our books are everything from right now we’re reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, about how to make tiny changes to get remarkable results. Highly recommend! Before that, we did a Brendan Bouchard online course. So he’s a big kind of online entrepreneur. So not in my field, but fascinating to see how he’s grown his business. So we pick something- and the other thing I’d say is I’m not the one that picks it. My team picks it. So they’re responsible for coming to the table with new growth opportunities for us. And I think that kind of has helped twofold as a leader. One is they have different perspectives that I don’t have. So that enriches my abilities. And my skills, and they get to contribute at a way that contributes to the organization. So I would encourage everyone to have a growth club that goes beyond kind of your traditional book club. It has been just wonderful for us.

Jenn DeWall:                     I love that. And I like that it’s a growth club and that it is something that gives everyone the opportunity to share different perspectives so we can learn from it because every person is our teacher and our student.

Tamara Ghandour:           Absolutely. And I think it’s key our last time at the end of it is how do we implement or what are we going to change? Like how is that impacting us now that we know this knowledge? Because I think it’s one thing to talk about it. It’s another thing to actually do it.

Jenn DeWall:                     Don’t talk about it. Be about it.

Tamara Ghandour:           That’s Right.

Jenn DeWall:                     Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. I loved our conversation, and I cannot wait to do this again in the future.

Tamara Ghandour:           Oh, we’ll be doing this again. We have more notes we didn’t cover!

Jenn DeWall:                     Yes, we do! Thank you.

Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the leadership habit podcast with Tamara Ghandour. If you want to learn more about how you can become a better innovator, hop on over to gotolaunchstreet.com or look for the address in the show notes there. You can book Tamara to speak for your organization and find additional resources on how to move innovation efforts forward. Also, you can take the free IQE assessment so you can find out how you innovate. If you like today’s episode, please share it with your friends and family and don’t forget to rate and review us on your favorite podcast streaming service.