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Want to foster innovation? Get out of your comfort zone

Sarah K. White | March 21, 2016
If you ask Hal Gregersen, innovation is one of the most important factors of success in the enterprise, and that's especially true for IT. In his MIT lecture series, he coaches attendees from around the world on how to stay curious and ask the right questions.

This a common thread for top level executives, according to Gregersen. They stay too confined to their offices, rather than getting out and interacting with the lifeblood of the company. It's difficult to decide what services, software and hardware will best integrate into company without understanding how each department functions. CIOs typically want to determine the most cost effective software or technology that will be embraced within the organization, has a low learning curve and won't make employee's jobs any harder.

Success isn't comfortable

Ultimately, Gregersen says that business leaders need to get uncomfortable to be successful, and that is especially true for CIOs. He points to some of the best leaders in the country, like Elon Musk, who make it their business to experiment, get creative and challenge tradition. He says that as children, we ask questions, but that slowly that trait is worked out of us as we grow older.

Gregersen's aim with this course was to help attendees find that inner child who asks the questions most adults wouldn't consider asking. Through curiosity, CIOs can approach problems from a new angle and solve issues in a way that positively affects the business from the top down.

Throughout the course, Gregersen led attendees through a series of lectures, presentations, exercises, group activities and brain teasers to force them to get outside their comfort zone and figure out how to ask the right questions. To boil down Gregersen's philosophy to one simple concept: "Get out of your comfort zone to ask the right questions."

 

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