IT Best PracticesLeadership/Innovation

Find the ‘Yikes Zone’ to Unleash Innovation

The challenge of “stepping outside of your comfort zone” is that it is not like somebody painted a few clear yellow lines on the street to show where your comfort zone is. You may not always be conscious of how much or little you are pushing yourself. So in an article for strategy+business, George E. L. Barbee tells us to start looking for the “yikes zone” instead, the place where you are unquestionably nervous or maybe even afraid. This is the place where innovation is bound to strike.

Turn Left at the Twilight Zone

Barbee says you should first figure out where your yikes zone begins, and then determine how to get there safely. (So no, do not book that skydiving ticket just yet.) There are questions you can ask to figure out where comfort really ends and yikes begins:

Are projects with a long time frame or large scope intimidating? Is speaking up in a group difficult? Or is being quiet and really listening a challenge? Maybe you shy away from new technologies. Perhaps you micromanage and feel uncomfortable letting team members work independently, preferring to do most things yourself, or with an overly watchful eye. Whatever it is, name it, feel it, sit with it. You’ll feel that familiar discomfort seeping in, but resist the urge to retreat or freeze.

Next, break the task down into parts and find a piece that you can get started on. You needn’t launch headlong into the yikes zone.

Barbee continues to discuss some of his personal experiences about reaching the yikes zone safely. He recalls a brainstorming session from years ago that began with exercises focused on “taking your mind on a vacation.” The idea was to bring people to a safe place where they could feel comfortable suggesting any wild idea without fear of criticism. This is a good starting point for a safe yikes.

For further thoughts and examples, you can view the original article here:

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