An exercise to know, understand and defeat those who want to stop change
“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friend” — Baltasar Gracian
If you reading this it’s because you want to know more about the Eight Enemies of Innovation. My previous piece was meant to help you understand the most common archetypes. This post focuses on how to fight those enemies.
Before you get started, a quick caveat. This is an exercise that works better done by a group. When we run the “Fight the Enemies of Innovation” workshop, teams can go deeper into the subject thanks to the experienced coaches. This self-managed version will get you started.
The exercise is pretty straightforward. Take the time you need. Use post-its to capture notes from each phase. Keep them in front of you as you progress from one step to the next.
Download your canvas and read how to facilitate the exercise.
1. Know Your Enemy
- List the three people in your personal and professional life that are getting in your way. It could be in general or related to a specific project you are working on.
- Write 3–5 behaviors they have that either derail you, slow you down or frustrate you.
- Check those behaviors against the Eight Enemies of Innovation archetypes. Choose the archetype that better captures the DNA of the person you are thinking of.
- Select one Enemy. Continue to the next level.
2. Understand and Empathize with Your Enemy
- Revisit the Eight Enemies of Innovation archetypes post and focus on the selected Enemy.
- Carefully read the description. Find similarities with the actual person.
- Is there anything on the profile that you haven’t noticed before? Is there anything missing that you want to add?
3. Know their Weapons
- Using the above table, learn more about your enemy’s motivation.
- Check the weapon that this particular archetype uses.
- Write 3–5 examples of how the actual person might use this weapon to slow you down.
4. Realize how your enemy affects your work
Answer the following questions. Try to capture at least five post-its per each.
How do they (try to) slow you down?
How do they (try to) derail you?
How do they (try to) frustrate you?
Put all the post-its together. Rank them in order from most to least important. Choose the top three.
5. Brainstorm Strategies
Come up with solutions to overcome adversity. Brainstorm different ideas per each post-it select from the previous step.
Here are some additional tips for you to consider when fighting each Enemy.
- The Clown: Call him out. Make him (and the team) aware of how he is using humor to get the easy way out. Try to get others on your side and make them realize that supporting the clown might seem fun, but the team’s performance and the outcome will be jeopardized.
- The Thief: Manage information cautiously. Don’t share more than you should. Don’t provide the background on how you got to your conclusions. If she’s asked for more details, she will be exposed. It would be clear that the idea is not hers. You should push to be in front of decision-makers. You have the right to present your ideas to decision-makers.
- The Caregiver: Acknowledge the team emotional bonding but don’t let that be the way the team success is measured. Don’t get caught in the Caregiver’s overwhelming love. Inspire the rest of the team to move beyond emotional metrics and to focus on more concrete ones. Having a good relationship is good, but every team needs to be competitive and challenge each other if they want to succeed.
- The Traditionalist: Don’t take for granted her “we tried that, and it didn’t work” motto. Ask for facts. Drive inclusiveness to avoid the tension between past and future. Connect your new initiatives with the heritage. Repurpose the old rather than killing it. Favor a culture that balances heritage with new blood. Emphasize how the past is the foundation that allows the new ideas to be flourish.
- The Ruler: He is all about power so you’ll have to play hardball to show that you are strong too. Fighting a ruler is always risky, but it’s better than not doing anything at all. Include him in the process, so he has ownership rather than just share the end solution. Rulers are paranoid; they fear being overthrown. Always provide perspective on how your initiative will help him look good and stronger. Share the credit. Look harmless. Show respect, not fear.
- The Intellectual: Avoid getting caught in an intellectual conversation whose only purpose is to slow you down. When you are requested to do yet another analysis using a different model, push back. You want to make the intellectual land, not to continue flying non-stop and getting nowhere. Pushing for a concrete deadline also helps.
7. The Superhero: Don’t allow him to bully you with bold challenges. Ignoring and deflecting his attack could be perceived by the Superhero as a sign of strength. Confront him with his superhero image by not taking him too seriously. Find his kryptonite; everyone has one.
8. The Friend: Make sure you don’t get caught off-guard when she suddenly changes colors. Be ready to anticipate when the friend switches sides. Get decisions in writing, so that is not that easy for her to change her mind. Chameleons don’t want to be confronted with their lack of consistency. Be subtle. They are not aware of how easily they change their mind constantly.
I hope this exercise increases your awareness and preparation to defend yourself from the Enemies of Innovation attacks.
Reminder — Enemies Make You Stronger
Be more aware of the enemies that want to wear you down. Anticipate their moves. Develop specific tactics. Join them but don’t become one of them.
Enemies test your endurance.
Enemies make your ideas better.
Enemies keep you on your toes.
Enemies remind you who you are. How bad do you want what you want?