Perfection and Why it Has No Place in Innovation

The higher we get in our career, the harder it can be to say we are uncertain or that we don’t have the immediate perfect answer. That’s what experience, leadership and being a highly paid, highly intelligent professional brings – right?


That mentality is a drag on innovation.

If we are only ever after the ‘perfect answer’, chances are the opportunity will have long passed by the time we share it. I like what Seth Godin says, “If you want to have a great idea, you need to have LOTS of bad ideas. Eventually, some of them will be good.”

Being prepared to share a half baked idea (you know it’s not perfect but it could be part of the solution) that you want others to build on is at the heart of a culture of innovation.

Vulnerability and the Innovative Process

That takes vulnerability – especially in Australia where we love to have a laugh at someone else’s expense! I am sure you have been in a meeting where a colleague shares a great idea but instead of being asked to develop that idea further, they are cut down right at the start…

“Nice one Smithy! Been smoking the waccy baccy again? Ha Ha Ha!”

That’s the last time Smithy ever shares his/her ideas again.

Brene Brown is an incredible advocate and believer in vulnerability. She has studied it as part of her research on shame and if you haven’t seen her Ted Talk (41 million views and counting), I highly recommend taking a look. Her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is also an incredible insight into vulnerability, perfectionism, courage and living a wholehearted life.

Brene has broken down the social barriers surrounding vulnerability and made it part of our everyday vernacular.

However, it should be more than that, it needs to become part of our everyday life.


Because there is no such thing as perfection and it certainly has no place in the creative process. Making mistakes, learning from those, creating other ideas, testing them, making changes,  making more mistakes, testing them again, and then only then, might you have a product, template, drawing or prototype that you could work with. But it won’t be perfect…

Having a team that supports you through that process rather than dismissing every new idea or stopping the process at the first failure or hurdle, does not help to get the creative process flowing.



As Brene Brown writes:

“So many leaders fail to realize that without vulnerability there is no creativity or innovation. Why? Because there is nothing more uncertain than the creative process, and there is absolutely no innovation without failure. Show me a culture in which vulnerability is framed as weakness and I’ll show you a culture struggling to come up with fresh ideas and new perspectives. I love what Amy Poehler had to say in her web series Smart Girls: Ask Amy: “It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers, and the creators. They are the magic people of the world.”

That’s why I love this clip and the message Brene Brown shares – ‘nothing is more uncertain than the creative process’ yet we know that to thrive in the future workforce, that’s where the magic lies.


Simon Banks         

If you want to know more about my work, or you need to inspire your team to kickstart their thinking, drop me an email. I would love to hear from you.

Or check out my book on kickstarting a culture of innovation in your workplace, you can download FREE the first 2 chapters here.

Chat soon,

Simon Banks

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