4 Key Insights on Emotional Intelligence and Innovation

From the behavioral patterns of high performing teams to Marvel’s blockbuster success formula, here are 4 key takeaways from our deep dive into innovation

By Michael Miller – September 8th, 2019

1. Focus on the foundation first

What’s the most distinctive feature of innovative teams? Google embarked on a years long study to identify what drove its most innovative teams, and the key turned out to be a shared feeling of psychological safety, the belief that it is acceptable to voice your opinion and that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. This makes sense: The brain’s primary goal is survival, and when it doesn’t feel safe, it reverts back to safe and familiar patterns – and literally shuts down higher level processes like creative, innovative thinking. Want practical tips to create a climate of safety where innovation can flourish? Check out these 5 action steps to cultivate a culture of psychological safety.

Research: Psychological Safety Fuels Thriving Teams

2. Break down normal boundaries

When researchers mapped people’s brains during innovation, they found that innovative thinking occurs when regions of the brain that normally ignore or exclude each other start working together. These findings have implications for fueling innovation in organizations big and small. Just like the brain specializes and works in silos for efficiency’s sake, so do organizations. But innovation requires new ways of thinking & connecting. Check out these 3 tips to apply the neuroscience of innovation in your organization.

3 Practical Ways to Apply Innovation Neuroscience

3. Blend the novel with the familiar for optimal results

Innovation is about something new, but not something entirely new. Most organizations already sell some product or service, and they don’t want to start completely over. It’s about taking what exists and building on it or expanding it in creative new ways. No one has done this better than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Check out Marvel’s 3-step model of innovation for a framework of how to innovate within an existing business model.

Marvel Studios’ Incredible Success Fueled by 3-Step Model of Innovation – Here’s How We Apply It at Six Seconds and How You Can Apply It In Your Organization

4. Pay attention to the process

Innovation isn’t just about having amazing ideas. We know this isn’t true because mediocre ideas get adopted while more brilliant ideas go unnoticed every day, at organizations all over the world. What’s the difference? Your idea’s ultimate success or failure depends on your ability to win the support and resources needed to turn that idea into reality – an ability that a trio of authors have dubbed as innovation capital. Like political capital, innovation capital is an intangible set of conditions – a mix of your reputation, network, sales ability, and more – that determines your capacity to implement your innovative ideas. We’ve identified the 7 emotional intelligence skills you can use to build this crucial capacity – check them out here and download our free workbook for innovators.

7 EQ Amplifiers to Build Your Innovation Capital

Add your expertise on Innovation…

and get ready for Connection!

As you read these Innovation pieces and practice applying the principles, be sure to share the results in the comments. We strongly believe at Six Seconds that every situation is unique – No Way is the Way in our Learning Philosophy – and your thoughts are invaluable to others as they try to grow and innovate themselves.

Our Q4 theme is Connection. Be on the lookout for the latest research about how to connect with yourself, others and a bigger purpose. If you’re not already signed up for our weekly newsletter, you can subscribe by filling out the form to the right.


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Michael Miller
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