Monday, August 10, 2015

How to Leverage Communication in Harnessing Innovation

Aristotle asserted when it is rational, the whole of all those who participate is greater than the sum of its parts.

Digital is the age of co-creation. Communication is the mechanism that we use to think and learn - without others to communicate with, learning doesn't happen. When we think alone, we are using internalized speech and thus talking to ourselves. When we communicate with others, we are talking to each other to shape our ideas around problem-solving.  However, there are no one-size-fits-all communication styles. In some, talking will be important - and talking at the right time in the process. In others, visuals might be more important. In some language, in some symbols, in some silence; in some solitude in other crowds. To dig through, why is communication crucial to idea development, and how to leverage communication by harnessing innovation?

Digital is the age of co-creating ideas. Everyone has ideaphoria, but some people are just swimming and swirling in the sea of ideas! They just naturally have a higher rate of flow of ideas, a trait known as high Ideaphoria. In a team setting, collective creativity is only achieved through the diversity of thoughts. At the organizational scope, instead of trying to agree or arguing the toss, people begin to work with the jointly produced material. They are almost accidentally collaborating, clarifying, building on each other's ideas, discovering nuances and unexpected relationships, and so on, all of which enriches the thinking and contributes to a fabulously rich output. It’s about co-creating knowledge, sparking possibilities that happen in conversations of purpose and trust - conversations that are relevant, without fear of judgment, allow for expansive thinking, and value the power of "both/and". When the intent of "shaping ideas" is to create value, the act of conversation is core, as a skill in "shifting and shaping the conversation" to enhance the quality of the connection, ideas generated and integration of thoughts. To use the diversity of ideas as a rich source of connectivity and relationship, to harness all the spontaneity of interaction the group is capable of and provoke breakthrough thinking to arrive at creative outcomes that would be otherwise very unlikely. It is important to surround yourself with others who are better at doing what you want to do. If you have this network of people, then getting feedback on your ideas will certainly help shape what comes of them in useful ways.

Communicating an idea to others raises the total cognitive threshold: Each of us has a defined cognitive threshold. An upper limit to the level of complexity that we can handle at any one time or on any one topic. Talking to another person about an idea significantly raises the total cognitive threshold available to analyze the situation. It also allows new pieces of information to be synthesized to generate new knowledge. Talking to others doesn't just allow ideas to be shaped faster - it allows ideas to be generated that wouldn't have been possible within the constraints of your own cognitive threshold. Talking with three to four other capable people seems to be the group with optimum size. At the end of the conversation, you will have new knowledge and most likely will have a clear idea of what to do next.

It is more effective to have a process that enables all those ideas to relate to a structure of meaning: The whole point is that all the ideas are a response to the focus of the inquiry and thus must form part of the creative solution. Going from thinking it inside of our head only to verbalizing it, shifts our brain from one mode of thought and uses another part of our brain. Just like when we go from learning to teaching, we make those shifts that allow us to give the idea with more clarity. Not only figuring out the best options and solutions but also by asking them to explain and focus more on details about what they are trying to achieve. Just doing that helps managers cut through a lot of useless stuff and get directly to the point that they are trying to achieve. All creative processes alternate between divergent and convergent modes, but data/information is mostly gathered at an early stage. The more data/information, the richer the process (not 'mistake potential')

Including the right people in the right roles can help to shape ideas faster. Because we all filter information differently based on our experiences, sharing ideas gives depth and shapes a well-rounded concept. Talking and actively listening to one another also creates excitement which propels good ideas to be formed. Thinking aloud really helps test and refine ideas, the trick is selecting the right audience; one that will listen appropriately, constructively challenge your thinking, stimulate you to seek better answers, but most of all provoke you to listen to their ideas. This not only requires you to be willing to listen but the audience to have something worth saying. The "facet" metaphor has a potentially illusory advantage of brainstorming -- as with the cut facets of a precious stone -- that they imply a mutually reinforcing coherence to sharpen a good idea. True communication alters the direction that an organization can take. It moves the leadership from hierarchical to one where talent can be gleaned from within. Developing that kind of leadership is essential to being successful in innovation management in today's business climate.

Aristotle asserted when it is rational, the whole of all those who participate is greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, something surplus becomes added in reasoning through issues together, that makes a group more effective than the sum of all its individuals. Creating new ideas starts with a body of experience, a vague or precise goal or vision, and hopefully a good night's sleep! Talking, sharing and collaborating can make a good idea really come to life. Also, particularly where you can't bring everything to fruition yourself, the networking and collaboration of others can really speed things up and ensure your idea is the best it can be.


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