The Super Bowl just finished with the most innovative team winning 41-33. The Philadelphia Eagles scored a touchdown that made a big difference in the game, and was very innovative.

The offense was fourth and goal at the 1-yard line 30 seconds before halftime in the big game against the New England Patriots. Normal logic would have said to kick the field goal and go into the locker room with an 18-12 advantage. But the coach is courageous and innovative. They snapped the ball to the running back as the quarterback was faking a line call by hovering over the tackle. The running back then tossed to the receiver coming around on a reverse. As soon as he had the ball he slammed on the brakes, and by that time the quarterback had snuck out of the backfield to be all alone in the end zone for an easy touchdown catch.

U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis went nuts, as did all the Eagle fans. No one expected this play in this critical part of the game. No one expected it because the Eagles did not run this play once all year. No one expected it because the quarterback was the backup after the starter was injured a few weeks ago.

Courageous and innovative — a great combination.

The same courage and innovation must be part of our corporate innovation quest. Many ideas for innovation are bold, and there are always strong voices against change. There is always risk, and there is always difficulty. The only way to overcome these opposing forces is to be courageous and innovative!

An article from Forbes explains this well. It’s titled “Innovation Requires Humility and Courage.” In part it notes: “Along the way to adulthood, however, most of us lost our childlike curiosity and our candor because we became consumed with being liked, being ‘smart’—which to us meant being right and not making mistakes—and protecting our self-image so as not to lose face. Innovators, however, can’t be consumed with always being right and can’t avoid mistakes and failures. Innovation, as a process, requires failure. Exploration into the unknown, by definition, produces surprises. To become innovators, we have to develop a different mental model of ‘smart.’ That requires us to accept the science of learning, which illuminates the cognitive and emotional proclivities that can inhibit our learning.

“Cognitively, we are fast, reflexive thinkers and naturally inclined to confirm what we already believe. We are not rational thinkers. Emotionally, we become restrained by our ego and our fears of not being liked and failure, and we resort to what noted Harvard professor Chris Argyris called ‘defensive reasoning.’ We are emotionally inclined to deny, defend, and deflect when we feel that our self-image is being challenged.

“To innovate, we have to unlock these cognitive and emotional chains to be more curious, open-minded, mindful, empathetic, and nonjudgmental in listening and to be better critical and innovative thinkers and egoless, constructive collaborators.”

This explains well how many normal thinking patterns work together to limit innovation, and the only cure for this is courage

Take heart and absorb the feeling that the Eagles’ coach must have gone through. Work to understand your thinking, and use your courage to innovate.

Keep innovating!

2 Comments

  1. It wasn’t that innovative Ray, it was just better executed than when the Pats tried it.

  2. Hi Bob- and the fact that Foles is a better receiver! I did like the line change fake that the Pats did not do- that may have been a little more innovative, but definitely more courageous!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *