The following is an excerpt of an interview with organizational and communication strategist Laura Crandall. Here is what she has to say about slowing down to allow cultures of innovation to emerge and the pressure organizations feel to be in continuous innovation.


Leaders and organizations often feel: We have to innovate, we must be innovative, we have to go, go, go. This is real. Competition is real. But the idea of slowing down in order to go faster, really does lend to the quality and energy of very rapid innovation cycles. Just stop and think for a minute “what do we really know?” not to what we think we have to know.


The stress of most organizations today, in relationship to competition or technological speed, we get ourselves wrapped up a little too tight when we could just say okay, actually, let’s just have a conversation. “Why don’t we think this? What’s important?” It creates so much space, so much breathing room to actually think clearly. And I think it’s being undervalued and under-appreciated, to just stop and take a step back so you can actually see things clearly and allow more ways to see a solution to a problem.


If you just pause, especially if there’s some sort of panic, whether it’s a fun stress or a competitor is breathing down the neck of an organization, maybe you’ll find that it’s just cultural anxiety or urgency. I think sometimes the idea of organizational urgency to get things done gets hijacked a little bit. Is it urgent or is it just too speedy?


There are so many studies about when innovation really happens, when people really have breakthrough or “aha” moments. It’s usually not when they’re working very hard. It’s when they’re in the shower, they’re going for a walk or they’re having a conversation about something completely different. Their mind can slow it down and access all the other neural networks that they don’t have to think about the competition. And here’s where innovation comes in. Innovation can grow from that very different perspective, that’s more playful and less stressful. And that different framework of thinking helps address the problem at hand. There’s a lot that can be said for slowing down and simply allowing your mind to wander.