Designed To Fuel The Idea Engine

“The most consistently creative and insightful people are explorers. They spend an enormous amount of time seeking out new people and different ideas, without necessarily trying very hard to find the “best” people or “best” ideas. Instead, they seek out people with different views and different ideas.”  -Alex Pentland Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread-The Lessons from a New Science

There is no other option in today’s world. Organizations must learn. Individuals must learn. It is imperative for relevance in the exponential economy. It is vital for the adaptive challenges that we must face now and in the future as individual and as organizations.

And we must realize that this is a complimentary process. A push and pull at all levels if we are to create not only better engagement, but better systems for our individuals and organizations. Our future growth depends on our ability to learn.

Today’s leaders must acquire a ‘learner’ mindset in order to continually feed the creativity and innovation engine with an ongoing flow of new thinking and ideas…

But how often are we really truly feeding the system with new learning that cascades across the entirety of the organizational landscape? More importantly, how often are we just rehashing what already exists and trying to wrap it up in a new package? Or have we just become an echo chamber of current ideology, unable to see the future for the mental models of the past?

And how often are we really engaged in a divergent process of gathering new ideas and learning, while creating the processes and structures that bring those ideas to the organizational table?  

Or do we find that our idea tables are laid bare while our innovative engines run dry by the fear and judgment that exists across our organizations? Or do we find that our idea wells run barren from an unwillingness to engage in these processes and structures for the bureaucracy, hierarchy and command and control structures that proliferate and inhibit our systems?

If so, a bit of disruption and positive chaos may be necessary to rev up our organizational and even individual idea engines.  

Especially if that flow has run dry, leaving our organizations barren and void of the creative and innovative thinking necessary to push us effectively into an often turbulent and uncertain future. As Brafman shares in The Chaos Imperative, a bit of white space, a few unusual suspects, or the infusion of intentional serendipity might be necessary to provide the fuel to reignite our idea engines.

To provide the fuel to spark more creative and innovative thinking and ideas at all levels of our organization.

However, most organizations find that they are still mired in the silos and hierarchy that diminish and extinguish these opportunities for improved ‘idea flow’. Tearing down those obstacles will be a matter of leadership design, if we are to create the environments that allow for new learning and thinking to cascade across all levels of the organizational landscape.

Design, not happenstance will be required to spark this type of electric environment where our organizations work more like enhanced networks, mobilizing more quickly and more effectively to bring new learning to light and action.

It is in these networked environments that we allow more autonomy to effectively do what Pertland describes in Social Physics as having the ability to “harvest, winnow and sculpt” the ideas and thinking that allow our individuals and organizations to learn better and faster.

Which will lead our organizations to not only work better as systems, but become collectively more creative and innovative.  

It is collective capacity that is built in these networked learning environments that allow our organizations to not only move past efficiency, but to become more effective and eventually create the collective impact that leads to deep influence. Allowing our organizations and all within to become more cognizant of their own capacity to effect change.

Eventually leading to more informed, more dynamic, more interactive, more vibrant, and more influential and impactful organizations. Allowing our organizations to become more fluid, less stagnant structures that enhance the ability of each individual and the entire organization to see not only their own growth, but how they feed, support and influence real impact.

“We are now coming to realize that human behavior is determined as much by social context as by rational thinking” -Alex Pentland Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread-The Lessons form a New Science


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