Great Innovative Leaders Live in the Interstitial Spaces

Interstitial Innovation

interstitial (in-ter-stish-ul l):

a small or narrow space or interval between things or parts, especially when one of a series of alternating uniform spaces and parts:

When was the last time you read an article unrelated to your craft? Have you ever purposely sought out unfamiliar experiences? Do you enjoy interacting with people with vastly different perspectives from yourself?

I’m afraid most leaders choose to do none of the above. Why? Because our psychological tendencies make us naturally stray from uncomfortable situations. We tend to gravitate towards people and ideas that are most familiar to us. Although this ensures we stay within our safe-zones, it locks us into a vicious cycle encouraging us to only do what we’ve always done before. The outcome results in average thinking and predictable experiences.

In my experience as a corporate advisor and innovation architect, I can confidently say this is one of the most dangerous traps that most leaders fall prey to.  They surround themselves with ideas, people, and experiences that resonate with them. When, in fact, what they need are dissonant encounters that challenge their preconceived notions and beliefs.    

I call this living in the interstitial spaces because it requires us to view our customers, business, and innovations with wide-ranging and in-between perspectives that are often contrary and unfamiliar.

So next time you see that hobbyist magazine, encounter a gypsy, or take the wrong turn on your walk…I encourage you to go forth and engage. You just might be pleasantly surprised about what you learn as you charter unexplored perspectives.

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