Check out the figure below. These three numbers look like a triangle. We call this triangle the “Triangle of Challenge.”
Let’s start with the number ‘2’.
The number two represents what the top growth organizations in
the world have said makes the biggest difference in allowing
them to grow in terms of revenue, profitability, and solution set.
Everyone wants to know what winning companies do well.
There are two things that top companies have mastered
internally. When they were researched and studied, the two things they have done differently and mastered internally are Innovation and Collaboration.
Think about the level of “IN” that is required for these two things to be done well.
The level of “IN” refers to involvement, the level of interest, the level of interaction – how engaged their people are. This is all
about being IN and what is crucial for Innovation and
Let’s talk about Innovation.
Innovation isn’t necessarily a big light bulb moment where one
person comes up with a big idea that will change the company.
There is a famous Thomas Edison Quote: “Genius is 99%
perspiration and 1% inspiration.”
Innovation is about noticing things.
Why do we do something this way?
What if we tried it another way?
It’s about exploring opportunities and ideas and really being IN
It’s also being willing to say, “we have always done it this
way, but what if we did it differently?” It’s seeing how you can apply new methods to achieve desired outcomes, so it’s about
All things are needed to be IN the game. To innovate, we
need to be noticing what’s going on, asking why and shifting
perspectives – our own and others.
Let’s look at the second key to growth, Collaboration.
Collaboration happens when companies have individuals and
teams who are working hard – contributing to what they were
hired to contribute. They are truly productive, and there’s value
in them being together.
Collaboration is about expressing opinions.
Collaboration is about staying open-minded. “I know you
look at it differently than I do but it could lead us to a better
Collaboration involves listening to diverse thoughts instead
of shutting them down.
And a big skill that people have shared is the ability to see a
bigger picture — “it’s about a joint outcome, not just my personal
So, when companies are leading in growth and innovation,
they are doing these elements well. Their people are IN. This is
what the 2 means.
Now let’s link the number 64 (or 81 if you include companies
headquartered outside of the US) because what we know from
research and data is that 64% of US workers and 81% of global
workers are checked out, according to a study published by the
Gallup Corporation in August of 2018.
People are disengaged in their work.
Isn’t that alarming? It’s a frightening statistic. It’s alarming
because you need engagement for collaboration, and
collaboration leads to innovation. But collaboration is extremely
difficult if you have only 19 to 36% of your workforce truly
showing up and 64 to 81% are disengaged.
As we researched this topic, we discovered that this had
been narrowed down to four main reasons. They don’t
encompass every possible variable but they do capture the four
biggest reasons for disengagement. They are called the Four D’s.
The first D relating to why people are disengaged is because they
are distracted. The average attention span of a worker today is 8
seconds, one second less than a goldfish. The average office
worker checks his/her email 30 times per day. Mobile users check
their screen 150 times per day – our life is screens, screens, and
more screens – we all have so much vying for our attention.
Workers are deluged with so much information that their
brains just shut down, they can’t take in any more. They are
being overwhelmed. The problem today is not a lack of information; the problem centers on the fact that there is so
much information readily available it is hard to know what is
important. What to do they do? They protect themselves; they
check out. It could be that the most important point in the
collaborative discussion is being raised, but they didn’t hear it
because they weren’t IN.
People disengage because it’s difficult to engage, the third
‘D.’ It’s difficult to ask that tough question — “why do we do it
that way?” It’s difficult to deal with diverse opinions that are
different from our own, and it’s difficult to shift your view of the
world, especially if you feel bought into your viewpoints.
And the 4th D is for Disconnect. People feel disconnected
from their colleagues, their managers, and their contribution to
their work. And this disconnect is big.
People are disconnected because they are uncertain of what’s
expected of them. They are unsure of what difference their work
is going to make and how they are valued. No matter how you
look at it, there are a huge number of people showing up, going
through the motions, really busy yet not connected to innovation
Let’s take a breath for a moment.
What is the impact of this so far?
Companies are saying, “We really want to grow and to do that,
we need our people engaged and generating innovative ideas.”
BUT! The reality is that 6 out of 10 people are not engaged at the level they need to be for innovation and growth.
That’s concerning in itself, but let’s add another variable to
Let’s talk about our final number: the 20. When we asked
leaders what percentage of their people have the skills to
challenge the status quo:
• To ask why we do it this way
• To speak up if they think it is not going the way it could go
or there’s a better way.
Leaders said fewer than 20%.
This is another alarming statistic. Right?
• You are trying to grow.
• You need people fully involved, and you want them to
have the skills to challenge the way things are done.
• Leaders just don’t have the confidence that people have
the skills that they need.
So now, you can start to see why the Triangle of Challenge sets
the stage for why we are here.
We are learning about Constructive Challenge because people
need the skills to challenge the Status Quo, challenge each other,
challenge themselves if we are going to achieve Collaboration,
Innovation & Growth.
We must have the skills to be IN ourselves and to bring
other people IN. How do people develop the skills for innovation
That is at the heart of our workshop.