Sunday, November 13, 2011

Defending New Ideas Without being Defensive « Leadership Freak

Defending New Ideas Without being Defensive « Leadership Freak

Defending New Ideas Without being Defensive

By Dan Rockwell

All leaders explore, introduce, and defend new ideas. Defending an idea often creates adversarial conversations. You offer points that support your idea and others evaluate, adopt or reject.

You’ve surrendered your power from the beginning.

There’s value in the traditional process but there’s a better way.

Defend less explore more:

  1. Explore how new ideas compare and contrast to established ideas.
  2. Explore the potential results of new ideas compared and contrasted to the results of old ideas.
  3. Define the dangers of clinging to established ideas and the danger of adopting the new.
  4. Examine established ideas in light of the new.
  5. Acknowledge built in bias for the tried and true and skepticism toward the new.

Our bias toward staying the same is normal and often helpful. Clinging to the known is a platform for making sense of an innovative idea.


Adopting innovative ideas makes sense if they better align with reality.

Additionally, the benefits of adopting an innovative idea must surpass the benefits of staying the same. Change for the sake of change isn’t worth the effort.

Exploring new ideas must include the questions, “What are the benefits of staying the same?” “What are the benefits of adopting a new idea?” “Does this new idea better align with reality?”


Most importantly, someone must tenaciously and gently champion innovation during the exploration. This sounds like defending but it isn’t if you use the questions above.


The decision to adopt an innovative idea or to remain the same often boils down to values. Colliding values create tension around adopting or rejecting innovations. Wise leaders listen for values.It’s easier to explore, reject, or adopt innovations when groups share values.

When values collide, exploration ends and conversations move from pros and cons to who’s right and who’s wrong.

How do you introduce new ideas in your organization?

What strategies work well for exploring innovative concepts?

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