As I navigated through my career, I encountered a fascinating realization: our brains aren’t wired to innovate and analyze simultaneously. It’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time – possible, but not without its challenges.

I quickly noticed this pattern in brainstorms and meetings – we were squelching innovation in the moments we needed it most.

We’d be bouncing ideas off each other about how to solve a problem and before even finishing my sentence, I’d also say, “no that’s not going to work,” or Greg would say a possible solution and Barb would instantly shut it down. Mindy would throw out an idea and we’d jusge it as not “easel pad” worthy instantly. We were trying to innovate and analyze at the same time but all we got was over analyses and premature judgement.

Why is this? The answer lies in how our brain functions. When we analyze, our brain engages in a critical, judgmental mode. It’s about precision, accuracy, and finding flaws to correct them. This mode is crucial for quality control and efficiency, but it’s not the fertile ground for innovation.

On the other hand, innovation requires a free-flowing state of mind. It’s about dreaming, wondering, and asking ‘what if?’ It thrives in an environment where judgment is suspended, and possibilities are endless.

My biggest learning? To foster innovation, I had to consciously create spaces for both innovation and analysis, just not at the same time.

Innovate first, analyze second.

This approach transformed how I worked. I realized that by separating these two modes, not only did my innovative ideas flourish, but my analytical skills became sharper when applied at the right time.

Have you experienced this phenomenon? How do you balance innovation and analysis?

This clips is from our Everyday Innovators Academy: