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Pulling Together or Pulling Apart?

Posted 1st December 2015 - 07:18am by Mountain Associates


Are you part of a consortium, partnership or do you work alone? 

Are you risk averse, risk avoidant or risk aware?


In order to work with others we need to trust - trust ourselves as well as others.  In order to trust we need to develop a sense of belonging which is a prerequisite to increased productivity and innovation.  When we trust we can take risks, be creative and innovate.  We need to be risk aware and find ways to take calculated risks.  In this way organisations are more likely to be able to maintain momentum and keep up with, and even lead, the changes. 


Leaders need to create sufficiently safe places where people will take risks and pull together, rather than be so competitive that they pull apart.  The problem with risk is that mistakes can be made, however, without mistakes development will not occur.  Therefore organizations and individuals need to be prepared for this.  If people are scared they won’t take risks and innovation will suffer and the market share will reduce.


So, what is the difference between innovation and creativity?  We can be creative without innovation. Innovation means that some action is taken.  To do this we need an innovation mindset.  This means we are open to others, to listening, accounting and collaborating - being co-creative.  Innovation enables individuals and organizations to reinvent themselves.  If we don’t innovate we get stuck.


Innovation can be triggered by any of the following: 


  • Distress
  • Discontent
  • A vision of what might be
  • Love
  • Gutsy determination


There can be an uncomfortable period between what our discontent is about and our vision for the future. Sufficient discomfort often leads to a break through. 


Mountain Associates’ best innovations have come through some discontent with something.  This has included developing new concepts that are helpful to those working in or with organizations.  When we find a concept difficult to teach because it doesn’t hang together with other TA constructs and theories then we pay attention and think about concepts that make do make sense and that are workable (See the OK Modes model, developments in OKness, and Concepts for Thriving etc., in Working Together, Organizational Transactional Analysis and Business Performance, 2011, Gower Publishing)   


Choices mean accounting current reality in order to prioritise.  Innovation and change do not necessarily happen overnight.  It is a step-by-step process.


Whilst we can promote change and innovation we can also hamper it.  We can do this by moving into one of the not-OK positions as well as thinking or believing one or more of the following.  We:


  • believe that we are not innovative or talented
  • discount when we have been innovative in life
  • are risk averse
  • distrust others
  • hold onto the way things have been
  • stop listening to others
  • remain isolated and don’t collaborate with others
  • are fearful of criticism

                                                   (Ian McDermot Association for Coaching Webinar, 2015)


With new ways of thinking and ways of doing things goes risk.  People like things they way they are, even if they don’t make sense!


It can be seen that leadership plays an important role here.  The leader needs to create an environment that is safe but not necessarily cosy.  However, often when people get stressed they revert to their old way of doing things and this may create an environment that is the very opposite of what is required.  Leaders may inadvertently hamper innovation through:


  • giving inconsistent messages creating fear and overwhelm
  • failing to generate shared targets and visions
  • ensuring that people are busy with tasks so there is no thinking or reflective time
  • promoting internal vested interests
  • focussing on short term gains only
  • obsessing about statistics
  • only speaking with the same people all the time
  • ignoring the unexpected
  • being wary of talent
  • moving technically talented people to management roles
  • stopping unqualified but capable people from progressing


                                                      (Ian McDermot Association for Coaching Webinar, 2015)



Therefore if we want to promote an innovative mindset we need to develop a culture which is challenging but safe, where people can make mistakes and take calculated risks so that co-creativity can flourish.  Therefore the opposite of all those items listed above needs to take place and in so doing people are more likely to enjoy their work, feel trusted and trust in return, be loyal to the organisation and increase productivity. 


  • What are your beliefs about the development of an innovation mindset?
  • Are you risk avoidant, risk averse, or risk aware?
  • How can you create sufficiently safe risks so that you move forward?



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