“If you’ve always done it that way, it’s probably wrong.”
– Charles Kettering, holder of 186 patents.
We tend to concentrate on things we already know, and time and time again, we fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. This focus on the familiar has costs. It was Nassim Taleb in his book Black Swan who pointed out that banks and firms are vulnerable to rare and unpredictable events called “Black Swan” events, that incurred losses beyond those predicted by their financial models. As humans, we have a tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively. Taleb is not advocating that we attempt to predict Black Swan events, but rather that we should build a robustness in the face of those negative ones, and that we should exploit the positive ones that occur too.
In thinking about his ideas, what if we could to do more of this in our workplaces?
- Unlock the ideas and contributions of more than just the usual suspects like those in positions of leadership, those in traditionally defined and recognized professions, or those who shout the loudest
- Expect and encourage more than one right answer in solving complex challenges – rather than assuming that a right answer already exists
- Make ‘thinking deeply’ about new answers welcome and not viewed as wasting time (this thinking has been described as a desirable form of procrastination at work, and was referenced by a panel on ‘Creativity as a business resource’ at the recent Leaderex 2017 conference in JHB)
- Make it possible for your employees to find and create connections between ideas, visions, offerings, challenges, so that we build new visions in place of over-relying on what worked in the past
- Get commitment to making it happen – not through sharing a vision, but through engaging people in the process of thinking deeply about, constructing and connecting all the possible ways of doing things.
So how do we closing the knowing-doing gap? There are practices and methods to assist.
Facilitated sessions using Lego, for example, can be used to set constructive, participatory, insight-rich working grounds. A facilitated LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session can open access to new ideas, locate challenges, create visions and ways forward, and secure stronger commitment to making things happen. By ensuring everyone participates and contributes, time spent together can be more efficient and productive. Here is a bank of case studies using Lego: http://seriousplaypro.com/category/serious-play-case-studies/
There is also a method to form teams that respect, encourage and develop a diversity of game changing contribution. I speak widely already about the GCIndex and its applications so I am not devoting more time to it here.
The reality is, in current workplaces, long-term business success is not down to one person with one idea, nor is creativity the job of one department. There are many new ways of doing, methods, tools, assessments. We just need to provoke our appetite to try some of them out. Don’t we? #mindset