In this blog we explore the fifth of six initiatives that transform individuals and organizations. As leaders, part of our job is to bring people’s good ideas forward and hold them high enough for others to see.
Initiative #5: Illuminate innovative ideas, new ways of thinking, and perspectives that become apparent.
Herald the Arrival of New Perspectives
The adage: “Don’t shoot the messenger,” is at the heart of this initiative. In ancient times when a messenger arrived with a new perspective, the king would want to kill the bearer of any news that would threaten the status quo. Today, news that the status quo must change may still not be welcomed or immediately embraced, but recognizing the arrival of the message is essential for the continuance of an enterprise.
Bill was a computer architect in the once giant Control Data Corporation in Minnesota. Years before Jobs & Wozniak created Apple Computer, Bill developed what he called a “personal computer” and brought it to the board of directors of Control Data. His device had a whopping 2K data storage capacity, unheard of up to that point. When they heard Bill’s presentation, the directors rejected the idea claiming that personal computing was never going to amount to anything other than a “hobby” and added, “besides, why would anyone ever need that much memory storage?”
Recognize New Possibilities
Our deep dialogues around difficult problems will reveal new possibilities for effective change. As leaders with formal authority we must go beyond merely “not shooting” and work to bring more light to new insights, innovative ideas, perspective shifts, and ways of approaching problems that can move us toward the future that is trying to emerge.
Leadership can help those who receive creative insights to find their voice and effectively articulate new perspectives in ways that can benefit everyone. Often, those individuals carrying an idea of the emerging future, are gifted with a power to make positive changes, but have no formal authority to take action. This is precisely when leadership can facilitate transformation.
Obviously, not every idea from a team member should be implemented. Nor should we shift the direction of an organization every time someone has a differing opinion. However, when a valuable shift in perspective appears, we better be ready to act. Within even the most ludicrous idea is often a kernel or seed that could be considered, illuminated, or articulated. It is these shifts in perspective that help us frame and reframe our thinking so that innovative new directions can emerge.
Japanese inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu (aka, Dr. NakaMats, holder of four thousand patents including the optical data storage disc or CD) has an interesting process for illuminating creative ideas that come to him. After pondering a complex problem, he enters a Zen-like space of quiet contemplation. Then he enters a room full of toys, tools, sound, light, and imagery to flood his senses with possibilities. Finally, he goes to a pool where he swims underwater with held breath, forcing oxygenation of his brain. It is in the pool that his best ideas come, and he writes his insights on a special board he invented for underwater writing.
As you generate ideas, or hear them from team member, capture the ideas. Carry a way to record them, either on paper or digitally. As my friend Sam Horn says, “If you think it, ink it!” Consider the seeds inside new ideas that give insight and new perspectives to challenges facing you. As a leader, work to understand and illuminate those insights that can help take the next step toward the future you truly desire.
In our next blog post, we will explore the sixth initiative to transform individuals and organizations. In it, you will gain ways to acknowledge the bold, creative new plans and concrete steps that can create the emerging future.
© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved