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Unlock Innovation in a Risk-Averse Organization

A Workshop: Build the leadership capability to infuse more creativity and ingenuity into your business-as-usual

New ideas, reinvention, and creative energy are the lifeblood of success today. Yet so many companies operate in highly regulated and/or risk-averse spaces. And the tension between wanting to innovate and needing to contain risk can be a tricky one to balance.

The answer isn't choosing one side or the other, but successfully finding the balance point between the two tensions. It is absolutely possible to be an innovative company or team within a risk-averse context.

About the workshop


This highly interactive workshop combines elements of instructor-led education, peer experiential learning, obstacle identification, and collaborative action planning.

Focus is on the three core drivers of contained Innovation: Mindset, Climate, and Leadership Behaviors.

1. Mindset

Expanding our collective capability for Innovation begins with expanding what defines it and therefore whose responsibility it is (spoiler: it’s everyone’s responsibility).


Too many organizations focus their Innovation efforts in product – because that’s where the invention of things tends to happen.


But a culture of Innovation begins with a mindset that Innovation is everyone’s responsibility…and it come in many shapes and forms. Developing new ways of engaging with customers, infusing new life into old processes and programs, identifying incremental shifts in how we market to customers or attract talent…. These are all Innovations.


This is the mindset we focus on building.



2. Climate


Believing that Innovation belongs to everyone is a critical foundation.


But having a climate in which it can thrive is the next great challenge.


In our program we focus on two key elements of an Innovation climate:


  • A climate of exploration – in which people are given time, space, encouragement, forums, tools, resources, and more in which to express their curiosity, their wonder, and their willingness to imagine.


  • A climate of experimentation – in which small, managed (read: risk-mitigated!) experiments can be run, learned from, reimagined, tweaked, run again, and


The reality – especially in highly risk-averse companies – is that these elements of climate are easier said than implemented. And we focus on identifying the specific obstacles we face to innovating and homing in on actionable strategies we can execute immediately to shift in the right direction.


3. Leadership Behaviors


And finally. As leaders, we all have an accountability to keep Innovation humming. Here are just some of the critical leadership behaviors we workshop in this workshop!


Leaders who drive a culture of Innovation in a risk-mitigated world…


  • Role Model – Not role modeling eureka moments, but rather the practices – of asking, listening, learning, trying, failing, and bouncing back.


  • Storytell – Lore is a powerful incentive. If the only “Innovation” stories you tell are about breakthrough inventions, then people will check out. Telling stories of innovative approaches to customer service, to employee recruitment – these get people excited to roll up their sleeves.


  • Recognize and reward – Again, not breakthrough innovations, but innovative behaviors. When we preach learning from failure, but we punish those who actually fail…we are the ones failing. Are you recognizing those who speak up, who try things, who learn along the way?

Through shared learning, discussion, opportunity spotting and solutioning, each participant emerges with a clear and simple action plan for amplifying innovation within their sphere of influence


The total run-time for this workshop is three hours. It can be delivered in a single block, or (recommended) two 90-minute segments, virtually or in-person (currently U.S. only).


Whom the workshop is designed for

  • A cohort of leaders within a single organization in a risk-averse industry, striving to bump up their collective capability around innovation

  • An intact team (i.e., a leader and their team) looking to enhance its own practices around Innovation

Why Lead Above Noise?

Because we've worked with a diversity of highly risk-averse, heavily regulated organizations striving to enhance their innovation capabilities. We've done the research, designed the conversations, and facilitated the exercises that have moved leaders and their teams in those environments along the Innovation curve. We don't believe in borrowing Silicon Valley strategies and retrofitting into regulated organizations is the answer. We believe Innovation looks, feels and tastes different in these companies. And our approach is truly different as a result.