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Handelingsverlegenheid. I think it’s such a beautiful word in Dutch. In English, it means hesitancy or anxiety to act, possibly leading to indecisiveness.

Without intervention, action is not taken. Without action being taken, there is no innovation. 

Anxiety to act.

When the nerve to take action is lacking. When you keep accumulating knowledge. When you do even more research. When you dare not make a decision. When you dare not make a choice.

Anxiety to act.

Deciding what to do. No research can beat that. It remains an educated, intuitive gamble. Intuition stems in part from experience. It comes from substantive expertise. If your organization is only made up of managers and not skilled professionals, then something like anxiety to act can grow, which leads to indecisiveness. 

Which makes sense. This is why managing things tends to go around very nicely in circles and nothing ever happens. 

How can you make a decision about something that you do not have a ‘feel’ for? Domain-specific knowledge is a must-have to be able to be creative, as creativity scholars would no doubt say. And we do know: without creativity, there is no innovation.  

Want to innovate? Invest in substance. Invest in taking action. Invest in intervention.

Anxiety to act.

Wonderful words with a rather depressing aftertaste.

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Derek jan Fikkers, Eugène Franken, Katleen Gabriels, PG Kroeger, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous articles.