If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you may have heard Anala Beevers, a four year old who’s been recently invited to join MENSA. She’s not only remarkable because of her age, but because she’s in the highest percentile of IQs MENSA has to offer. According to People, Beevers learned the English alphabet at four months old and numbers in Spanish by age one and a half.
The New Orleans resident now names capitals of countries across the world without hesitation and has no qualms about her achievements. When asked, “How smart are you?” she’s said, “Really smart”. Her parents admit that their four year old daughter is miles ahead of them and she already has plans to become a nurse when she grows up so that she can help people.
It’s clear that Beevers would have quite a lot to teach the average businessperson, but what her story demonstrates is something more that people within large companies often forget. A common acronym used throughout businesses is the HIPPO, or the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. Many articles warn about the dreaded HIPPO running your company and urge everyone to be wary, but the truth is that hierarchies dominate most of the business interactions we have. And within those hierarchies we’re encouraged to view certain opinions and ideas as more valid or more important automatically due to the hierarchy. And while their are some hierarchies that make sense (e.g. consulting an employee who does factory work about factory work vs. an office employee who’s never done factory work), sometimes power structures are the biggest obstacles to innovation, even when utilising idea software.
Anyone looking at Beevers as just a four year old child might immediately write her off. When we picture a “genius” in our heads, it’s usually an adult, sometimes a man, maybe with a clipboard in hand and a lab coat. Very rarely do we assume that a young girl would have what it takes. But perhaps that’s part of the problem that keeps us from finding jewels like Beevers within companies. Our assumption that geniuses come in one flavour and one look actually harms us and prevents us from finding the best solutions.
In order to reach a point where a company becomes innovative, they have to be willing to look at all ideas democratically and, rather than factoring in a power structure, they should factor in experience and knowledge. Maybe Beevers doesn’t have the same experiences her parents have in the world because of her age and she still may have a lot to learn, but she has her own experience and knowledge to contribute. Looking at all ideas from the standpoint of what they provide rather than our assumptions about who’s providing them can lead us to find the geniuses within our own companies. And in the end, that’s what creates solutions and drives innovations further.
image credit: people.com
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Lola Olson is Lola Olson is a freelance writer and marketer who creates content, manages social media, and advises on marketing strategies for multiple companies and charities, primarily working with Wazoku, an idea management company, Find Invest Grow, an investment company, and several other organisations.