Natalie Turner – Author, Yes, You Can Innovate

Fight, Flight or Innovate?

It is June 1st, in 8 days we will find out whether the CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order) in Malaysia is to be extended, or relaxed. If the past is anything to go by, it will no doubt be extended, with less restriction gradually being introduced. Penang Island, where I live, has had no cases for 35 days, we are a Green Zone. Wherever we are in the world we have all been in some form of lockdown. The principles are the same; restricted movement, social isolation, home schooling and, unless you are a frontline key worker, furlough or working from home. Now, as we start to re-engage with the world, we need to decide not just what we want to do, but how we want to be, and what our modus operandi will look like. Here are three suggestions.

Fight. We can decide to fight against what is happening, to preserve and defend what we have. This is what most of us have been doing, in one form or another. It is an instinctive and necessary reaction. Business continuity, management of risk, flooding the internet with advertisements for our, now virtual, services – whatever works, we need to keep the lights on, pay the bills and make sure we can survive.

Flight. It has amazed me just how many people around the world, particularly in the more individualistic nations, such as the USA and the UK, are acting like nothing is amiss. Just this last weekend, as a heatwave hit England, people are massing on beaches in their droves. I’m alright jack, let’s get out there and have some fun. Quarantining people coming into the UK is only set to start this week, really, over two months after the horse has bolted? The flight response is also instinctive, to run away from danger, or worse to pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it might just go away. If it were a tiger chasing you in the jungle, you might want to run, but a pandemic? It needs a more sophisticated response.

Innovate. So, what happens if we have done all our fighting, and we realise we can’t just fly away, what are our options? Human beings are incredibly innovative. We wouldn’t still exist as a species if we weren’t. We adapt. We reinvent. We survive. The challenge is, if our brains are in a Fight or Flight mode – cortisol pumping, short term survival – it is hard to innovate. It is hard to calm the mind so that it can strategise, imagine and create something new, yet this is exactly what we need to do. Now, more than ever, innovation is the survival skill of our time, not just to innovate our way through this pandemic, but innovate a new way of being on the earth that is focused on people and planet. So, how do we move into the pre-frontal cortex, the ‘sketch pad of the brain’ that we need the most to help us right now? Here are a few suggestions, for you as an individual, and if you work in a team, or lead or manage others, are equally as important.

1.    Develop a Mindfulness Practice – It is only in a state of awareness that we can calm the mind and create space around our thoughts and emotions. In those spaces, new ideas can emerge. We can challenge our conventional thinking and re-imagine a different future. The three practices I have developed as a daily rhythm are meditationQi Gong and Journaling, they are the bedrock of my life. The foundation on which I stand. Find one that works for you and stick with it.

2.    Question your and/or your Team’s PURPOSE – What are you actually trying to achieve and why? What impact are you hoping to have? Are you doing the right things that will help move you towards where want to go? Do some soul searching and promote an open and honest conversation with yourself and others. Maybe it is time to do something completely new? What potential could you focus on right now? If you have not used it, the IKIGAI is a great place to start. Then try and write it down into a simple sentence:

My/our PURPOSE is to _______________________________________so that I/we may_______________________________________________________.

3.    Discover your and your team’s strengths – Not just any strengths, but strengths through the lens of doing new things. If you are an IGNITER, someone who is good at generating new ideas, you may need to work with an INVESTIGATOR, someone who is good at seeing the value that an idea could generate and how to test it. Don’t try to be good at everything, play to your strengths, but never at the expense of what an idea might need. Want to find out your innovation strengths?

4.    Improve your ability to collaborate – no doubt about it, I think we are all Zoomed and webinared out, if there is such a word. However, without Zoom and other collaborative technologies, where we would we be right now? I don’t know about you, but the last few months have been a great learning curve my husband DJ Carl Hinds entertaining people around the world with Stir Crazy LIVE and Sunday Soul Sessions, building an in-house studio for speeches and virtual workshops and most recently, discovering Mural interactive collaborative design technology, which will transform the way we facilitate virtual training for our Virtual Certification Programme and innovation and strategy workshops with clients. If you haven’t heard of Mural, check it out.

So, we do have options. We have all probably done our fair share of FIGHTING, and some of us have no doubt been in a place of FLIGHT, hoping that this situation will just pass by quickly so we can get on with things. However, the only real, sustainable mode of operation right now is to INNOVATE – to create value out of ideas that are new to you, to your team, to us, to the world. Fight, Flight or Innovate, what will you do this month of June?



Natalie Turner is the Author of the Award-Winning Book Yes, You Can Innovate. Discover your Innovation Strengths and Develop your Creative Potential. She is also a Keynote speaker, now virtual and the inventor of The Six ‘I’s® of Innovation.

Discover your team’s innovation strengths and create new actions for change through our virtual service Fight, Flight or Innovate.

Here Natalie speak at The International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) Virtual Conference on June 9th.

Learn how to enable and empower your organisation to unleash its creative potential through the Six ‘I’s® Virtual Professional Certification Programme.

For virtual entertainment visit DJ Carl Hinds and follow him on MIXCLOUD.


This article also published on LinkedIn