Blue Ridge Parkway

Anatomy of an Innovative Team: Humility and Resilience

Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts about what is needed on an innovative team. Previous posts were on disciplineinquisitiveness and empathy.

On one of my first days at 3Pillar I told my CEO I was going to get things wrong. I have delivered on that promise and will continue to. I’m one of those people that needs to learn by getting bruises. I don’t particularly enjoy getting things wrong but I would rather have a small fail than an epic one.

“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”
Winston S. Churchill

Like Churchill I’ve had to eat my words and my ideas. I’ve crashed and burned in front of seven year-olds, been wrong about pain points, pitched a value proposition that had no value to the users and have had teachers look at me like I’m nuts. The only difference between me and most of my new clients is that I invite and expect this.

I’ve had people argue with me endlessly about my test metholodogy so they don’t have to accept negative results. I’ve been told interviewing customers is a waste because the team already knows the answers. This type of stubbornness costs money and time.

Humility is accepting that you don’t have all the answers and being willing to engage your team, stakeholders and most importantly customers.  Resilience is picking yourself up when your tests fail. Having both will keep your team headed in the direction of a successful product.

When your building your team look for people who:

  • Are willing to take risks and make mistakes
  • Engage others in brainstorming
  • Value learning from mistakes
  • Openly discuss challenges they’ve faced and how they overcame them or didn’t

Image: A spiderweb alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I snapped this before heading out on the Boone Fork Trail

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