Episode 189: Jennifer Mueller – Why Leaders Should Embrace Creative Change

From Jen: I earned my PhD in Social and Developmental Psychology at Brandeis University, and have had the fortune of been on the faculty of many top business schools including the Wharton School, Yale School of Management and NYU’s Stern School of Business. When I started my research career, I was a research assistant at Harvard Business School, working for the wonderful Teresa Amabile on a large, longitudinal data set which included daily diary entries for over 230 employees in around 26 project teams and 7 companies. As I read these diary entries, I started to realize an unexpected pattern around how people described their feelings when generating creative ideas. People expressed joy and happiness which I expected, but they also expressed frustration and dread at having their ideas routinely rejected by management. (from JenniferSMueller.com)

My early attempts at trying to trap the bias against creativity in the wild failed miserably – people uniformly said they loved creativity. For this reason, I thought, like most people did, that the bias against creativity must not exist, and instead, people who had their ideas rejected were just expressing sour grapes. One day, while attending a research seminar on racial bias, I had an insight. What if, just as people can have a positive authentic regard for a given social group, but also hold implicit and unacknowledged negative feelings towards this same group, people could have an outward authentic love for creativity but hide their hate towards it.

After this insight, I published the paper, “The Bias Against Creativity,” which went viral and was downloaded over 65,000 times—receiving more than 100 media mentions and being described as a “famous study” in TheAtlantic.

My book “Creative Change” reveals the answer I have found to the question of why people desire but reject creativity- an answer that I believe challenges the basic assumptions about how we recognize creative ideas, creative leaders, and the very fabric of how we structure organizations for innovation.

Episode 189: Jennifer Mueller – Why Leaders Should Embrace Creative Change

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The Learning Leader Show

“If you’re calculating risk, then it’s not creative.”

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Common themes of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Mindset to learn
    • Curiosity is the most important
    • Thinking like an inventor… Curious by asking “What does this mean?”
  • Why is their pressure to perform immediately?
    • It’s a followers mindset — Anchor to the competitors and play the rat race game
    • This does not allow you to break away from the competition
    • If you want to change the status quo, you cannot think this way
  • There are no shortcuts…
  • Why write the book?
    • Studied how people generated ideas
    • Was cynical at first, but what Jen learned is that leaders don’t know how to manage for innovation
  • Why do ideas get rejected?
    • “If you’re calculating risk, then it’s not creative.”
  • How to give yourself a better shot for the idea to get traction?
    • Give a feedback pitch and not a selling pitch… Ask for feedback and advice
  • Her famous study — “The Bias Against Creativity”
  • Overcoming the bias against creative leadership
    • Backlash against the people who generate the idea — It’s not good
    • Might be promoting people on out of date measures
    • Mis-reading skill set
  • “Creative Leaders have to ask questions and be curious”
  • “Stop generating ideas, start making impact”
  • Have a change circle… Talk about how you can push your idea through

“Creative leaders must ask questions… And be curious.”

Continue Learning:

You may also like these episodes:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 071: Nate Boyer – Green Beret, Texas Football, The NFL

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

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Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

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