Leo Bottary

By Leo Bottary

Peernovation and Why You Should Care About It

Peernovation and Why You Should Care About It 150 150 Leo Bottary

More than 25 years ago, my 4 1/2-year-old daughter attended a Halloween party at her daycare center.  When a woman who the center had hired to dress up as a witch walked into the room, one of the kids began to cry, which triggered a second and then a third.  Within a minute or so, most of the kids in the room were scared to death of the witch. As the teachers tried to reassure the pre-schoolers and restore order, my daughter ran to the front of the room, made her self real big, and yelled, “It’s okay, she’s not real!  There’s no need to be afraid!”  The kids looked at my daughter, then at one another, and concluded everything was okay.  Would the teachers have gotten the situation under control eventually?  Of course.  Did it happen a little more quickly when one of their own said everything was okay?  No question about it.

This same dynamic takes place in the workplace among adults every time a leader makes an announcement about a change that employees are uncertain about or potentially fearful of.  They, too, rely on their peers, co-workers, family members, etc. to help them assign meaning to whatever situation or circumstances they may find themselves.  The key influencers among employees are not always the ones with the fanciest titles.  According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, our most trusted source of company information and what it means for us is our co-workers – not the CEO or senior leadership team member – it’s the people who sit beside us. Our peers matter and they matter huge!

From Peer Influence to Peer Advantage to Peernovation

Peer influence has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Because it is such a powerful and pervasive force, it stands to reason that we should pay attention to how to maximize it.  The road from peer influence to peer advantage is simple because all it requires is that we are intentional about it.  If you can be more selective, strategic, and structured about the people you surround yourself with, you can tap into the power of peer influence in a new and amazing way.

Peer•no•va•tion (pir-nə-ˈvā-shən) combines the words peer (people like me) and innovation (creativity realized).  Peernovation is what happens when a group of people who share common values, yet offer different perspectives and skills, bring ideas to life.  This is where peer advantage bears fruit.

As the proverb goes, “none of us is as smart as all of us” and none of us is as creative as all of us either. I’ve been fortunate on countless occasions to have led and been a member of teams who produced outstanding work for our clients.  Any member of any of these teams (me included of course) would readily admit that there was no individual in the room who would have ever come up with the same high level of work if left to their own devices. Put a group of talented people with different skill sets and experiences in a room, who are relentless about achieving a quality outcome, and watch out!  Teams like these are what separate great companies from good ones.

Achieving peernovation, based solely on the intention of leveraging peer influence through peer advantage, won’t happen by itself.  It requires leaders who recognize that an organization’s resilience doesn’t come solely from its vertical organizational structure. It’s what runs horizontally that gives it strength and stability.   Leaders who recognize the power of peer influence, and who are deliberate in harnessing its power, are capable of building the kind of high-performing teams that will be necessary to thrive in this rapidly changing world.

Now What?

The world is changing quickly. The advent of AI and other emerging technologies will require us to access what makes us uniquely human. Doing so will begin with recognizing three things: 1) None of us can successfully meet tomorrow’s challenges by ourselves; 2) peer influence is a powerful force, and 3) our organizations are better when we recognize that its strength runs horizontally.  It’s hard to imagine a better time to explore the benefits of peernovation and discover its potential for you and your team.