The START is the primary action that opens the way for NEW IDEAS to take root. How do we begin making the big, sweeping changes needed in our organizations, in health care, with the environment, with energy, in education, in our communities and cities, or other places throughout the world that need our CREATIVITY and INNOVATIONS to solve our most pressing problems?
We know more about how-to-do-it than we give ourselves credit for---we prove it all the time. Think about the changes you've headed up or participated in. They all have the same beginning. You get up in the morning and you START. You believe in something bigger than yourself. You look UP and out with resolute FAITH. You PLAN a first important STEP in the right direction. You take a LEAP. You RISK. The START is a new beginning. Any IMPERFECTIONS will be stepping stones. You learn as you go, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, the way will be OPENED for other steps to follow.
"The things we need to learn, before we can do them, we learn by doing." -- Aristotle
The START is also the first bold action that unleashes IDEA POWER of individuals. Great things are rarely done alone. They are dependent on others. By the time we take the first leap forward, many fingerprints are all over our new ideas. This truth was highlighted for me in a personal way when my book was published by miracle artisans and the production team at Berrett-Koehler Publishers. It was my goal that the idea of putting differences to work would be reflected in everything about the book. One day, I counted and discovered that there were 1200 fingerprints reflected in the creation of just front cover of my book. They came from distant places, including the contribution from Australia from a women named Barbara that I didn't know, who submitted the winning subtitle for the book. Today, organizations and individuals across industries and the world are discovering and recognizing the power and value that people and their many dimensions of difference coming together have --- they are catalysts for generating new ideas --- they create the spark and generate the fuel for CREATIVITY and INNOVATION.
Ed Catmull, cofounder of Pixar and the president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, described it this way last year (HBR September 2008):
"The view that good ideas are rarer and more valuable than good people is rooted in a misconception of creativity. People tend to think of creativity as a mysterious solo act, and they typically reduce products to a single idea: This is a movie about toys, or dinosaurs, or love, they'll say. However, in filmmaking and many other kinds of complex product development, creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems."
What It Means
What holds us back?
In my book, Putting Our Differences to Work: The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance, I introduce a six-step action process. There is a whole chapter on each step with best practice stories and strategies ideas, including a chapter on ACTION: Moving Forward. As I shared, it is a power step, because it mobilizes. It moves us from talk into ACTION, which challenges the best of us, because action itself is a paradox. On one hand, it is the hallmark that has preceded every innovation, act of leadership, and accomplishment since the beginning of time. Think about one of your own achievements, great or small. Remember that first important step forward. It was freeing, wasn’t it? It felt good to be in motion. Heading in the right direction. Doing, at last!
On the other hand, at times even the most action-oriented find themselves temporarily paralyzed by the thought of taking action. Even very talented leaders sometimes get stuck. This happens many times after they have made a personal investment in taking a deep dive into the organization to assess where they are. It happens even after these skilled leaders miraculously pull off getting full sponsorship to proceed. Things come to a halt. A hesitation. A panic over the feeling of vulnerability and risk of actually moving out, knowing you are holding the accountability for results. At this common occurrence, the excuses we come up with are often wild and many. This might not be a reality we openly discuss with others—or admit even to ourselves out loud—but I’m sure you’ve felt it yourself. It’s that moment when your screen goes blank. The courage you bolstered up last week, convincing all your sponsors, disappears. The brilliance of the new people-focused strategy you designed and all those great ideas suddenly become suspect. The risk of mobilizing has great power over us and often helps us find a detour
What is it that keeps us at the threshold of doing --- hesitating to put our personal power behind THE START --- when it has so many benefits? All indicators point to one answer:Taking action requires more of us. It often requires paving a new path. Risking. Doing something we know little about or that maybe has never been done. So we often shelter ourselves with talk and task forces. Because the longer we talk, analyze, work to crystallize the perfect words to describe our unique issues (the bigger sounding and more complex, the better!), the longer we avoid having to act—having to figure out what to do, whom to trust—and then risk doing it.
THE START: How to do it!
Albert Einstein described three of the most valuable tools leaders at all levels have to “cut the brush” for new INNOVATIONS. They are the tools to put into practice to propel your first LEAP --- your BOLD START. Leaders at all levels possess them:
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
It is easy to procrastinate. I, too, have mastered the art of it. However, right now, we are being called to do more. We have to be courageous to reach beyond the traditional—take the best with us from all we have learned. We need to develop a new sense of curiosity and openness about what lies in the potential of people putting their differences to work to change the course of history in the marketplaces, workplaces, and communities across the world. We're all needed. We hold the responsibility to build a future---one where meaningful innovation in our respective products, services, and means of collaboration is governed by mutualism being the final arbiter --- the yardstick: Everyone benefits; no one is harmed. Imagine what we could do if leaders at all levels, in thousands of organizations, across the world, put their intuitions, imaginations, and experience to work at their full potential.
Now, there is a vision!
I welcome your perspective and look forward to hearing from you here, or on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. See below!
Warm wishes to you all! Debbe Kennedy
founder, Global Dialogue Center
and Leadership Solutions Companies
author, Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership,
and High Performance (Berrett-Koehler 2008)
Buy a Copy at Amazon.com
YouTube Book Review by futurist Joel A. Barker
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http://profile.to/debbekennedy/Twitter@onlinedialogues and @debbekennedy
Warm wishes to you all!