Category Archives: Angel’s Advocate

New Ideas Need a Soft Place To Land

You can quote me on this. I’ve been using the phrase and the idea behind it for years to explain that people feel more comfortable contributing new thinking, knowing their ideas will be well received; that psychological safety exists.


Let’s face it, over 15,000 scientists worldwide agree we need to shift away from ‘business as usual’ toward a more environmentally sustainable way of acting, living. With that big ask, comes opportunities to use imagination, to free thinking to create new futures.

Environments with psychological safety give new ideas a soft place to land. Not necessarily adopted, as put into action, heard and considered.

Psychologically safe environments let people risk new ways of thinking and understanding challenges, and stretch beyond ‘normal’ to consider alternative methods, outcomes, and activities without feeling threatened, insecure or embarrassed.  In other words, out of the box thinking is welcomed; people walk the talk, they encourage using curiosity and exploration.

I recently read Inc magazine’s recently published article The Results of Google’s Team Effectiveness Research Will Make You Rethink How You Build Teams.  It cited the importance of psychological safety as a determinant of effective teams. Other qualities are dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact.

What if, in the lead up to World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, you planned to enable psychological safety in your environment?

Innovation is about people after all. New ideas need a soft place to land. See what you can do to be open and receptive to new thinking – yours and others’.

WCID founder Marci Segal outside the UN April 20, 2017. WCID founder Marci Segal outside the UN April 20, 2017.

Let’s unite in our creativeness April 15-21. 

With so much divisiveness in our world now, wouldn’t be nice if we could transcend our differences and unite in our creativeness if only for one week every year? This year?

We all possess a potential for the future; we are pregnant with the possibilities for tomorrow.  Wouldn’t it be cool to see in everyone the contribution they can make and give them the chance, the support, the encouragement to release their creative spirit, even if only for one week every year? This year?

Wouldn’t it be cool to see in everyone the contribution they can make and give them the chance, the support, the encouragement to release their creative spirit, even if only for one week every year? This year?

Yes, everyone.


Imagine if leaders discussing important issues we spurred during this one week to say “It’s World Creativity and Innovation Week, so let’s put on our creative thinking caps to see what else we can consider, and the let us share our brand new thinking with our stakeholders and other interested parties.”

When the intended and other audiences hear the new thinking they respond by using an Angel’s Advocate approach, saying:

  1. What they like about it (even if they don’t – to stretch their thinking)
  2. What some future potentials might be (even if they don’t like the idea – to stretch their thinking)
  3. Their objections and concerns
  4. And then dialogue together with the idea proposers of ways to overcome obstacles, to change and/or strengthen, and/or replace the idea.

What if during this one week

…School children all over the world were given the same challenge to solve? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see their unique solutions?

…Municipalities, states, provinces, counties, industries, associations all recognized creative achievements and supported their constituents and members in learning more and exploring their own creativeness?

We all have a capacity to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and create new outcomes in whatever field we are in, such as dentistry, architecture, culinary, stone masonry, dance, driving truck, forecasting, teaching, you name it. Creativity occurs in the arts and beyond.

Wouldn’t it be cool to unite in our shared creativeness for one week every year?

That week exists. It’s called World Creativity and Innovation Week (wciw).

It begins on Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, April 15, and continues through to World Creativity and Innovation Day April 21, since 2001.

Please join in; unite in celebrating our creativeness.

Share your unique way of doing so here.


The photos are from a WCIW event last year in Canmore, Alberta, Canada held at artsPlace. Butcher block paper was put on that wall and visitors were invited to ‘give a hand to Canmore’.  Each traced his/her hand on the paper using markers and filled the space with a wish for the future. The children particularly enjoyed this, as you can see in the selected photos.

Do you want innovation to proceed? Then pay attention to the people

Imagine your plans are less effective than you anticipated. There’s pressure to perform differently, successfully. Conditions have changed; time now to adapt or innovate.

SoftplaceYou want to overcome obstacles, use creativity, and creative thinking. You want to access imagination, dream up what could be next, chart a different course, engage interested parties, and marshall resources to achieve results.

You want new outcomes, new ideas, new decisions, new actions.

So, what’s the first thing you do? Perhaps go to experts, listen to what they say. Perhaps you survey others to see if they have the same challenge and how they handle it. Perhaps you listen to podcasts about changes and trends that affect how you operate.

You might call together a group of colleagues to brainstorm insights. You could use a design thinking or other creative problem-solving process to uncover missing gaps from which to gain an advantage. You might look for inefficiencies at the macro and micro levels. Whatever your process, you find something that could work. Brava!

Now, what if, after all your effort, your colleagues use critical thinking first, and say the solution won’t work. End of story. Then what? You might feel dejected, sad, hurt. You might decide you haven’t the courage to do it again, to submit new thinking to solve new problems. You might make up a story about why your ideas weren’t accepted, take it personally or blame others. Your behavior might change as a result in ways that impact your overall performance and attitude towards your organization, your boss, your teammates.

Innovation_ConversationWhat if instead, your colleagues respond to new ideas in ways that support your creative thinking? Innovation is really about the people involved and how they work together, with the intended audience. Innovation is about people.

One aspect of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 is to remember to apply new thinking to new thinking – to discuss and/or hold conversations about new ideas rather than to immediately criticize them.

Here’s a four-step process you can use with colleagues, friends, clients, suppliers, children and other people with whom you regularly interact during WCIW this year. Do this, and you will honor, encourage and help facilitate people’s creative thinking.

You can use the Angel’s Advocate approach:

  1. Affirm first – say what’s good about the idea (even if you don’t like it – stretch your thinking)
  2. Future potentials – say what some positive potentials might be for this idea in the long run (even if you don’t like it – stretch your thinking)
  3. Objections and obstacles – mention your concerns and the idea’s limitations
  4. Strengthen the relationship – in dialogue, talk about ways to overcome concerns, to strengthen or modify the solution, discuss how well this fits the challenge, and/or problem-solve the findings together.

Share how you are contributing to World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, to help acknowledge, support and release creative energy worldwide.