Innovation requires the courage to make mistakes

This week I met a former customer and project colleague over lunch. Our conversation starts in the usual order with a brief update, and then develops into an interesting discussion about governance, leadership and business development. My lunch company talks about a gradual change in her organization that can be summarized like this: “Earlier when I raised an idea or question I got a question back - How do you think? Today, the answer is instead - I think… or so we should do ”.

My lunch party puts a finger on a trend that I unfortunately come across too often in organizations that I meet. It is about a lack of confidence and / or inability to harness the full development power of the employees. This is particularly worrying because what the reality requires is the exact opposite. The time when the managers were the ones with all the answers is long gone and some slow moving processes there is no room for in today's changing and complex reality. We therefore need even more confidence and more who actively contribute their thoughts, experiences and skills - and who not least have the power to make decisions. Innovation and development are therefore needed in environments that encourage the search for new paths. Roads that no one knows in advance exactly where they lead.

Unfortunately, I believe that the increasingly harsh media reporting, with disproportionate focus on who has "made a mistake" and simplified truths as common ones, can negatively contribute to the development climate. In a society where we put all the effort into not “doing wrong”, there is no energy and commitment left to test new solutions. Are we in our control lives on creating scared people and organizations? Organizations that, on the contrary, need to be full of creativity, power and courage to join and build a competitive Sweden.

Perhaps what we see is a symptom of how we are struggling with an increasingly complex and changing reality that we do not really want to accept. According to the theory of change, this state is called censorship. In that case, I hope we can move on soon to find inspiration and renewal.

Do these thoughts arouse interest? In that case, I recommend getting acquainted with the Beyond Budgeting Roundtable network ( It is an international network of organizations that share experiences, discuss and together strive to develop today's and tomorrow's governance and management models. Ekan Management is the representative of the network in Sweden. In February, we invite information meetings in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Warm welcome!