Overcoming Resistance to Innovation

Have you ever had a great idea only to have it rejected by your organization?

If you are nodding your head, you will want to read Think Wrong: How to Conquer the Status Quo and Do Work that Matters. The authors, John Bielenberg, Mike Burn, and Greg Galle, lead a Silicon Valley innovation firm called Future Partners that gives people the language, frameworks, and tools they need to drive positive change in their organizations and communities.

John, Mike and Greg explain the two important reasons we experience these hurdles, namely, human biology and culture. Then, they walk us through ways to challenge and, ultimately, overcome them.

In this interview we discuss:

  • How thinking right is all about predictable results and ho-hum solutions
  • How thinking wrong feels awkward because we are acting outside what is acceptable
  • The fact that we cannot follow the same predictable paths if we want to create and innovate
  • How a lot of brains operating on the same neural pathways create a culture
  • The six practices of thinking wrong: be bold, get out, let go, make stuff, bet small, and move fast
  • How letting go is about rethinking assumptions, biases and orthodoxies
  • The importance of making stuff so that our ideas come to life for others to see
  • Why betting small lets us run lots of inexpensive experiments
  • How moving fast allows us to iterate together on learning to accelerate progress
  • Why innovative outlaws need a shepherd and a scout to offset organizational sheriffs and posses
  • How biology and culture limit our thinking and ability to innovate
  • The fact that we say we want innovation when we really want optimization
  • How stepping off a predictable path makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable
  • The value of teaching different kinds of problem-solving systems
  • The value of learning from investment over return on investment
  • How incremental innovation, or increvation, will not help us solve big, important problems

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast


Future Partners

Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio


Deflection Point Exercise

Uncertain and Unknown Exercise

Creative Change by Jennifer Mueller

Project M

Pie Lab

If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes — your ratings make all the difference. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening!

Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!




Like what you read? Give Gayle Allen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.