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The Ultimate Threat to Innovation Lies Lurking in Us All

The Ultimate Threat to Innovation Lies Lurking in Us All

It’s an early Sunday morning at my favourite coffee shop.

I’m here to catch a few quiet moments and organize my thoughts for the week.

There’s something special about the Sunday morning mood here.  It’s peaceful, reflective and a good place to be.

An older gentleman is sitting to my right.  I walked past him earlier as I picked up my coffee. Caught his eye … smiled… got a small but hesitant smile in return.

Not sure how to describe him. Fragile maybe. Yes, fragile would be the right word.

I sit down at a table not far from him and go about my business. Reading… thinking… planning. And yet, every so often, his energy calls to me and I glance over at him.

He seems somewhat surreal sitting there – alone – as the crowd bustles by him, intent upon their own Sunday morning moment.

He watches them but they don’t see him.

And I begin to wonder…

Why is he here?

threat to innovation

And why is he here alone?

Is his wife busy that morning? Is she sick? Perhaps, she has even recently passed away. That might explain the sadness in his eyes.

Does he have grown children? Grandchildren? Perhaps they all live far away?

Perhaps he is lonely. Perhaps he wants to be alone.

I think about going over to speak with him but for some reason, I hesitate.  And before I know it, an hour has passed.

When I glance over next, he seems to be preparing himself for some great feat and I realize that he is simply looking for the strength to stand. And in that moment, he looks even more fragile than he did just moments before.

He takes a big breath, leans on his cane and pulls himself up. I think about going to help. I usually would.  But again, for reasons I can’t explain, I hesitate. And before I know it, he is already standing.

He makes the effort to turn and push in his chair so that it will be out of the way of passers-by. The attentiveness of a past generation, I think to myself.

A couple of tall teenagers push past him, narrowly avoiding knocking the gentle man over, oblivious to the fact that it was they who were in his way.  The lack of attentiveness of a new generation, I think to myself.

I am annoyed at their indifference and for a third time, I go to make my move but for a third time, I hesitate – unsure if my intervention will be welcome or if I will be perceived as overstepping my bounds. And before I know it, the man is gone.

The nagging feeling that I could have, should have, normally would have been a player in this Sunday morning story stays with me all day.

But the truth is, I had hesitated.  Not once. Not twice.  But three undeniable times.  And in those moment of hesitation, the opportunity to make a difference to the story that had unfolded before me had been lost.

How many missed opportunities have we had in our lives?

Opportunities to share a moment that we would normally keep for ourselves.

Opportunities to cry out when others don’t notice the need to speak up.

Opportunities to inspire change that changes lives instead of living lives that never change.


Hesitation kills Innovation

Here at the Innovation Advantage we are passionate about inspiring change that changes lives.

Change that changes the lives of your customers, your colleagues and your community because for us, innovation isn’t about being different for the sake of being different.  It’s about being different in ways that make a difference.

But here’s the thing.

Hesitation wreaks havoc when it comes to driving change.  It is the ultimate threat to innovation and it lies lurking in us all.

It is a threat that feeds itself on a feast of doubt, indecisiveness and fear.

  • We hesitate because we doubt that our ideas will be worthy or welcome.
  • We hesitate because we can’t decide if something right is the right thing to do.
  • We hesitate because we fear what could happen if we take a risk when instead, we should be terrified of what will happen if we don’t.

Yes.  I know.  Sometimes there can very valid reasons to hesitate.

For example, if your innovation doesn’t score well on the Five ‘S’ Solution, then hesitating until the idea is ready to launch is the smartest thing that you can do to maximize the return on your innovation investment.

But we all know that’s not the kind of hesitation I’m talking about.

threat to innovation

I’m talking about a much more insidious type of hesitation. The type of hesitation that holds us down and holds us back.

The type of hesitation that gets us in its grip and refuses to release us at precisely the moment when we should make our move.

The type of hesitation that keeps us on the sidelines, frozen in place, until the opportunity to make a difference in the story unfolding before us is lost.

The type of hesitation that leaves us on the outside looking in.

Time and time again we hesitate and before we know it, time has passed, the competition has stood up and the opportunity has walked out the door.

And we are left with that nagging feeling that we could have, should have, and normally would have been a player in that story but for reasons we can’t quite understand, we just didn’t manage to make our move.

And so I wonder…


Why are you here?

To fear or to embrace?

To doubt or to decide?

To hesitate or to participate?

Because for any of us to truly drive change in this world, we need to stop watching our stories from the outside in and start living those stories from the inside out.

The choice is completely up to you.

customer experience innovation

Imagine the Possibilities!

6 Responses to “The Ultimate Threat to Innovation Lies Lurking in Us All”

  1. Patricia Katz says:

    Toni, this is a beautifully written message that hinges on the most essential of life skills – noticing. It would seem there was a reason you didn’t intervene at the coffee shop. Living, breathing and reflecting on your experience brought an even deeper learning than might have come with reaching out in the moment.

    • Toni Newman says:

      Thank you so much Pat. This is one of those articles that has a special place in my heart. And yes…I do think that sometimes what we don’t do that teaches us the greater lesson.

  2. Your story brought back to mind Mel Robbin’s 5 seconds rules…

    • Toni Newman says:

      Hmmm… I’m not sure I know what those are Alain…

  3. This is a very profound “story”, capable of transform one’s mindset. Of those that for one reason or another are afraid of making decisions, to bring the best of themselves and provide an exceptional and unique service in their industry. Well done Toni!

    • Toni Newman says:

      Thank you so much Tony. There are so many things that cause us to hesitate before we make decisions and one of them is definitely self-doubt. T!

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