As I sit on a plane on my way to another event, I am reflecting on what it means to be with one another, in person.
What do we get by being together in the same place rather than virtual places, through webinars and such? What does it give us to be in one another’s space, rather than connected as Facebook friends and Twitter connections? When so much information is plentiful online, why go to a conference room in some far away place to be with people? Could it be that the new settings create enough newness for us to pay attention to that building or color that locals just walk past?
In all these years of watching innovation happen, it’s easy to realize that many of the ideas were “already there” but it was some shift in perception that caused people to connect the need to the solution, or to see a new “blue ocean” space that no one else has viewed as valid. All the elements of an Apple Iphone technology from touch screens to apps were already in existence before Apple decided to add their secret-sauce of design and then open up the world of creativity. In the same way, change on an personal level is not something that happens because of a great idea, but because our own understanding of something is shifted.
Shift is central to all growth; it happens not because of an idea but because of a connection that wasn’t there before.
That is why Rule #1 of the #SocialEra is about the role of Connections. “Connections create value. The social era will reward those organizations that realize they don’t create value all by themselves. If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.”
This has a lot of implications for each of us and the way we create value..
For leaders of organizations, you must stop thinking of who is inside your walls and who is out. You will find ways to connect. And in doing so, you will be pleasantly surprised by what happens next. Look at what GE is doing with its HealthyMagination work. In it, they have an open call to action for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students with breakthrough ideas for accelerating early detection and enabling more personalized treatment for breast cancer. GE knows some part of that value will be theirs, but the open approach lets them discover solutions that matter and to have a full network creating that connection.
Inside our organizations, we ought to reimagine meetings, because they truly are the supertax of work. If our goal is to create shifts, the role of meetings then should be about the dialogue around an idea so we can understand and learn together. Meetings should not about regurgitating information that people could read at their own pace. They should allow space for us to hear one another and then to hear the distinctions of the ideas so we can discuss and ultimately learn what criteria matters to everyone — so a clarity of direction can become clear.
The role of conferences goes up when someone can give us something more than what we can see on a video…When the curator can uniquely observe across disciplines, to find the edge of an idea that is new. It’s a rare skill to draw out distinctions, bring out the kernel of the new that must be explored, and to do it respectfully for all sides so the tension point or pivots between ideas can be seen well. But when it is done well, people have a chance to digest the set of beliefs — tacit or otherwise — tied to the arguments and decisions involved.
And finally, it seems to me that the role of interdisciplinary people who can facilitate dialogue will go up in value. The people who can celebrate the history of a problem or situation, but also explore the new without judgement to the past. This is because we are always living at the intersection point of who we’ve been, and who we are becoming. In the middle of the venn diagram of the past and the future, is the edge of where we are creating. Curiosity is the key to exploring that terrain…
So maybe it is this: We go to new places to explore because we know that explorations are the way we follow our curiosity and the very way in which all newness comes. And we create connections in the process not because we are trying to do so specifically…. but we cannot NOT find the connections when we are more open to them.