Leading innovation: Question everything (week 10)


question everything leadership innovation culture

Leading Innovation: Question Everything (week 10)

To lead innovation by questioning everything, agree on ground rules, and foster curiosity.

This is our 10th installment in the Leading Innovation series. See the rest of the series here.

Fresh Leadership For A New Age: A Series On The Art And Practice Of Leading Innovation The award-winning book Collective Genius by our founding partners Dr. Linda Hill and team reveals the strategies behind some of the world’s most innovative organizations. Their research makes it clear that a fresh approach to leadership is critical for organizations needing to sustain innovation or create transformative change. This 22-week series features tips on when and how you can bring this new leadership style to life in your organization. - image shows a lightbulb made of fresh fruit

Traditional leadership:

A conventional approach to problem-solving has been to study solutions by tackling predetermined questions or questions with known answers.

A fresh approach: 

In the new era, innovation is critical, and new rules of engagement are needed for thinking differently. Your team needs to agree on basic ground rules for how it will go about solving problems, otherwise members will argue not only about possible solutions, but also about how to proceed. Specifically, how to identify and evaluate alternatives and then select a solution.

Giving your team permission to question everything will attract the most talented people-those who are willing to approach challenges like eager explorers venturing into unknown territory. You want your team to challenge the status quo, solicit questions broadly, and be open to new ways at looking at things.

Bring it to life: 

  • Be receptive and don’t get defensive when asked challenging questions
  • Create an ethos of “no subject is off limits” and probe your staff with “what if” and “what about” questions
  • Model and routinely encourage your people to question the status quo
  • Don’t expect people to do things the way they have always been done
  • Regularly consider potential improvements, even when things are going well.

Next week: Be Data-Informed.

Innovation solutions from Paradox Strategies

Our Collective Genius simulation and learning journey is designed to help leaders inspire action, nourish creativity, and build a culture of innovation. We also offer keynotes and our proprietary innovation diagnostic assessments re:Mind™ and re:Route™ as first steps in developing the mindset, culture, and capabilities of innovative organizations. Contact us via the form below if you would like to know how to bring these great tools to your organization.

Linda Hill participates in momentous NYSE bell-ringing event

This BWOB photo of Linda Hill and a Black Women on Boards Rising Member taking a selfie together at the NYSE captures the joy and excitement of the day.

Students ring the bell to celebrate the accomplishments of Black women

NEW YORK, NY – FEB. 14, 2023 – Paradox Strategies Founding Partner Linda Hill was among a delegation of guests taking part in the ringing of the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange with the organization Black Women on Boards (BWOB) in a celebration of Black History Month.

BWOB is a network of 200+ women serving on boards of publicly traded companies as well as women vetted to do so, with the aim of increasing representation. In 12 months spanning 2021 to 2022, S&P 500 companies added more black women to their boards than in any similar period for the last 15 years, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal

Linda has been a trailblazer and is currently a member of the Relay Therapeutics board. She also served on the State Street board for 18 years and the Eaton board for 5 years. 

The day began with a networking breakfast and then the bell was rung by students from Spelman College in Atlanta and two high schoolers from Brooklyn in the TEAK Fellowship. Attendees also included Harvard Business School’s Women of Color participants pictured with Linda in the photo below.

“This is fantastic because the trading floor doesn’t usually look or sound anything like this,” an observer remarked.

Transforming healthcare: Linda Hill shares insights on digital transformation

Dr. Linda Hill joins Maria Whitman on the Transforming Biopharma podcast

Appearing on the Transforming Biopharma podcast with Maria Whitman, Paradox Strategies Founding Partner Linda Hill shares innovation strategies that can help biopharma leaders embrace and guide their organizations through digital transformation.

Dr. Hill brings concepts from her award-winning, research-based book on innovation, Collective Genius, to bear on some of the biggest challenges in the biopharma and healthcare industries today.

Highlights from the episode:

Listen to the full episode here:

Harvard Business Review chooses articles by Paradox Strategies authors for exclusive book collections

Writing by Linda Hill and Taran Swan featured in 'HBR at 100' and 'HBR's 10 Must Reads 2023'

Articles by Linda Hill and Taran Swan are featured in 'HBR at 100' and 'HBR's 10 Must Reads 2023'

Two articles by Paradox Strategies authors have been selected for inclusion in exclusive book collections by Harvard Business Review.

In a book released earlier this summer, HBR at 100: The Most Influential and Innovative Articles from Harvard Business Review’s First Century, editors celebrated the publication’s 100th anniversary with a commemorative volume of what they are calling the most influential voices on innovative topics since its inception. Linda Hill’s 2007 HBR article, Becoming the Boss, about becoming a first-time manager, was selected as among “the most definitive management ideas in a century.”

For decades, Linda has studied how star performers transition into management. “The shelves are lined with books describing effective and successful leaders. But very few address the challenges of learning to lead, especially for the first-time manager,” she notes. This article represents the culmination of her decades of research and case studies that have since fueled leadership development initiatives designed to make that difficult transition much easier. It was also an important precursor to her definitive management book, Being the Boss.

In a second book collection, an article by Paradox Strategies’ Linda Hill and Taran Swan with Harvard Business School research associate Emily Tedards has been selected for the highly curated upcoming publication of HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2023: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review – coming in October.

The article, Drive Innovation with Better Decision-Making, featured in HBR’s November-December 2021 edition, provides best practices for decision-making drawing on the story of the transformation at Pfizer’s Global Clinical Supply, which would go on to play a critical role supporting the rapid development of the pharma giant’s Covid vaccine.

Linda Hill and Brené Brown on leading with purpose in the digital age

Paradox Strategies Founding Partner Dr. Linda Hill joins Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast to discuss her research on leading in the digital age. Listen to the full episode in the player here, or access the episode on Brené’s website for the full description, show notes, and a special link to Linda’s 5 favorite songs on Spotify.

Linda Hill authors Harvard Business School Working Knowledge series on ‘Leading in the Digital Era’

RESEARCH REVEALS CRITICAL LINK BETWEEN Digital transformation AND innovation

A 3-part series

For their break-through, award-winning book in 2014, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, Linda Hill and her co-authors leveraged 30 years of research to discover how some organizations are able to innovate again and again. They cracked the code to help leaders everywhere gain essential insights into how to help make innovation happen within their organizations.

But since then, according to Dr. Hill, they’ve discovered something that’s been holding some organizations back – how well their organization has adapted to the digital transformation. That’s led to a new stream of research through a series of global roundtables and surveys with hundreds of leaders around the world: What does it take to lead in the digital era?

In the video below, Dr. Hill explains the critical link between digital transformation and innovation – both require a new kind of leadership.

In the following 3-part series for Working Knowledge, a publication from Harvard Business School, Dr. Hill and colleagues Ann Le Cam, Sunand Menon, and Emily Tedards reveal their latest findings on leadership in the digital era:
  1. Where Can Digital Transformation Take You? Insights from 1,700 Leaders Digital transformation seems like a journey without end, but many companies are forging ahead. Linda Hill and colleagues reveal 6 qualities that set digitally mature organizations apart.
  2. Digital Transformation: A New Roadmap for Success Is your company reaping the rewards of digital transformation yet? Linda Hill and colleagues offer 7 guiding principles for transformations at any stage—nascent, progressing, or stalled.
  3. Curiosity, Not Coding: 6 Skills Leaders Need in the Digital Age Transforming an organization starts with transforming its leaders. Data from 1,700 executives by Linda Hill and colleagues reveals the most important skills and traits leaders need now.
About the authors: Linda Hill, a founding partner at Paradox Strategies, is also the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration and faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School. Ann Le Cam is senior vice president of global talent and animation production at Weta Digital. Sunand Menon is chief product officer of RANE, a risk intelligence company. Emily Tedards is a research associate at HBS.

Introducing The Collective Genius Simulation:
A learning journey for leading innovation develop the leadership style to foster the culture and capabilities that can unleash innovation in your organization.

Use the form below if you’d like to schedule a free preview!

Linda Hill is named to Thinkers50 Top 10 for 2021

Congratulations to Linda Hill, named to Thinkers50 Top 10 for 2021

LONDON (Nov. 17, 2021) – Thinkers50, the premier ranking of global business thinkers, today announced its 2021 ranking of management thinkers and the winners of its 11 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Included in this year’s Top 10 ranking is Paradox Strategies Founding Partner Linda A. Hill, who is a Harvard Business School Professor and faculty chair of its Leadership Initiative and a new Women of Color Leadership Program. She is recognized as “a top expert on leadership and innovation, focused on global strategies, and how to harness creativity and engagement for strategic implementation.”

“It’s very humbling to be included on a list with so many individuals whose work I admire,” Linda said. She was first named to the Top 10 in 2013 and received the Thinkers50 Innovation Award in 2015, and she also ranked in 2019 (22), 2017 (15), 2015 (16),  and 2011 (16).

“We’re so proud of Linda and honored to work with her every day at Paradox Strategies,” said Taran Swan, managing partner, on behalf of the entire team. “Aside from having a brilliant mind, she is truly interested in people, which drives the great research she does all over the world with leaders at innovative organizations. She is humble, has a generous spirit, and a deep commitment to learning and helping leaders grow.”

Linda’s consulting and executive education activities focus on leading change and innovation, developing innovation ecosystems, the role of boards in governing innovation, talent development and implementing global strategies. Organizations with which Linda has worked include AIDA, General Electric, RELX, Accenture, UnitedHealth Group, IBM, MasterCard, Mitsubishi, Morgan Stanley, National Bank of Kuwait, AREVA, The Economist,, and The World Economic Forum.

Linda has been at the forefront of developing cutting-edge learning programs for managers, including Breakthrough Leadership, the winner of the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Award for Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology. She is author of several highly-regarded books and articles on leadership, including Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press 2014) and Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives of Becoming a Great Leader.

The 2021 Thinkers50 ranking is topped by Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School. “Amy is already a Thinkers50 Award winner and has risen steadily up the ranking over recent years,” says Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove. “Her work on teamworking is significant and more recently she has been the pioneer of the concept of psychological safety and author of The Fearless Organization, a ground-breaking blueprint on creating a fear-free culture. Her work is repeatedly cited by the practitioners we talk to as practical and inspiring. It combines practicality with intellectual rigour.”

The new Thinkers50 ranking is the most diverse and global to date. It features a majority of women for the first time and includes thinkers from more than ten countries (including the US, China, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium and France). The new entrants to the ranking are: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic , Chen Jin, Erica Dhawan, Frances Frei & Anne Morriss, Hubert Joly, Katy Milkman, Tsedal Neeley, Paul Polman & Andrew Winston, Navi Radjou, Megan Reitz, Laura Morgan Roberts, Sanyin Siang, and Amy Webb.

Thinkers50 Ranking 2021

1. Amy C. Edmondson (3)
2. Rita G. McGrath (5)
3. W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne (1)
4. Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (4)
5. Roger L. Martin (2)
6. Adam Grant (10)
7. Scott Anthony (9)
8. Whitney Johnson (14)
9. Dan Pink (6)
10. Linda Hill (22)

Others in the top 50 are listed alphabetically: Marshall van Alstyne & Geoff Parker, Sinan Aral, Rachel Botsman, Tiffani Bova, Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Chen Jin, Subir Chowdhury, Dorie Clark, Susan David, Erica Dhawan, Frances Frei & Anne Morriss, Francesca Gino, Heidi Grant, Lynda Gratton, Hal Gregersen, Anil K. Gupta & Haiyan Wang, Morten T. Hansen, Herminia Ibarra, Sheena Iyengar, Michael Jacobides, Hubert Joly, Frederic Laloux, Martin Lindstrom, Nilofer Merchant, Erin Meyer, Katy Milkman, Tsedal Neeley, Gianpiero Petriglieri, Paul Polman & Andrew Winston, Navi Radjou, Megan Reitz, Laura Morgan Roberts, Zhang Ruimin, Sanyin Siang, Simon Sinek, Michael Watkins, Amy Webb, Liz Wiseman, Ming Zeng.

Also announced at Thinkers50 2021 were the recipients of the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Management Thinking”. The award winners included the father of modern marketing, Philip Kotler, Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix), and Hubert Joly (former CEO of BestBuy). Among the Thinkers50 landmarks were the first Australian award winner (Amantha Imber, winner of the Innovation Award), the Trinidadian duo Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps for their work on cooperative advantage, and two Africa-based winners: Louise van Rhyn (Ideas into Practice) and Nankhonde Kasonde-van den Broek (Coaching).

About Thinkers50

Founded in 2001, Thinkers50 identifies, ranks, and shares the very best management ideas globally. Every two years, the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards recognize individual achievement 2 across a range of management categories, and the definitive global ranking of the 50 most influential business thinkers is published. The previous winners are W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne, Roger Martin, Clayton Christensen, CK Prahalad, Michael Porter, and Peter Drucker.

Paradox Strategies is again named a Top 10 diversity and inclusion company


For the second consecutive year, Manage HR has named Paradox Strategies to its Top 10 Diversity and Inclusion Companies for its innovative DEI solutions to help customers overcome challenges in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The featured companies are frontrunners in the market owing to their comprehensive features and extensive technology innovation,” the magazine’s website states. Award recipients are nominated by Manage HR subscribers.

Paradox Strategies is featured in an article in the magazine’s recent diversity and inclusion edition that recognizes both emerging and top 10 diversity and inclusion companies. The article is about how we work at the intersection of innovation and inclusion to show how effective leaders deliver growth and performance by embracing an organization’s collective talents.

In this interview with Manage HR Magazine, Founding Partner Dr. Linda Hill and 2 of our managing partners, Cheryl Whaley and Taran Swan, share insights into strategies for nurturing individual differences to unleash an organization’s full potential. (Access a PDF reprint of the full article here: Paradox Strategies: Leveraging Cutting-Edge Research to Drive Innovation.)

“There is no question that a diverse and inclusive work environment can help an organization attract top talent and drive innovation. But you can’t take for granted that this will happen naturally,” the three state in the article. “To realize the benefits of diversity and inclusion, organizations need to follow best practices. Paradox helps companies and other groups define these approaches in the context of their own particular circumstances.”

We also landed on the Manage HR Top 10 list last year. Here’s what’s changed since then:

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, companies are keen to become more agile and innovative: they have seen the need for flexible thinking and action. But they can’t do it without embracing diversity of thought within their ranks; this is what prepares them to cope, even to thrive, in environments like today’s, rife with uncertainty