I believe that important stuff gets done because of the people you know as well as the people who know the people you know. It’s all about networks.
Consider this. Someone asks you for a favour. How do you decide whether you do it? From my experience there are three key factors;
When these three factors are in all place stuff gets done. If one or more factor isn’t quite right stuff stalls.
Think about it, someone you know like and trust asks if you would meet a colleague to give them some advice. They know your time is limited so they offer that the meeting is near your office at a time that suits you. They know you like coffee in the morning, so they suggest your favourite local coffee shop for breakfast as the meeting place. They are appreciative that you would consider helping them out. They also suggest that the colleague might have skills and experience that could help you with a project you are working on.
You are busy. You are more likely to do the favour because you know, like and trust the person, they asked you well and they spelled out what could be in it for you.
All the factors compound, if someone you didn’t know or like, or didn’t ask well or didn’t make it clear what was in it for you you’d be much less inclined to say yes.
You’re a fundraiser – you know about asking. However, when it comes to innovation having a diverse network is important. Research shows that humans tend to gravitate to other people like them, people from similar backgrounds, with similar viewpoints. When we all have similar experience, we start to think the same. We start to operate in an echo chamber of our own similar ideas. If innovation is about thinking differently and developing new ideas then we need people in our network that are different from us, that will challenge and build on our ideas. And because we naturally gravitate to people like us we need to be deliberate about seeking out a diverse network made up of different experiences, perspectives and thinking. That’s where, I believe, successful innovation lies.
One of the reasons I’ve set up the Lucidity Network – is to provide connections to a dynamic and diverse network of people who can help you. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Join the Lucidity Community Facebook group to get in the Lucidity groove for clearer thinking and better results and be the first to hear when the Lucidity Network is open for members. Don’t tell your friends though.
Toddlers are learning about their world, testing boundaries and they have no fear or filters when asking questions (I recently overheard a toddler on a bus pointing at a well-built gentleman and asking their mum ‘Mummy why is that man so FAT?’ Their mum was mortified, the other people on the bus found it hysterical and embarrassing in equal measure and the well-built gentlemen was apparently deaf).
Just to be clear toddler syndrome is not a licence to offend other people. Toddler syndrome is the fearless ability and energy to keep asking ‘Why?’ To challenge ‘the way things are done round here’, in order to continuously seek out a better or more effective way of doing things.
Have you ever got to the end of a project and thought, ‘If only we had asked them x’ or ‘I wish we’d thought about y’ or ‘Wouldn’t it have been great if we had known z’.
I know I have.
Because the majority of the time we’re up against deadlines and conflicting priorities it can be hard to take a step back and really think deeply about the best way to do an activity.
We don’t ask enough questions. Either because we are too busy, or we assume that our questions are not welcome or that we simply don’t have permission to ask.
If you work in fundraising, whether that is speaking to donors directly, running events or providing support services, we have a great responsibility to work together to maximise our income. If we don’t challenge the status quo and ask ‘Why?’ more, we are simply not doing the best for our beneficiaries or for our supporters who trust us to use their donations as effectively as possible.
Often we can feel that we don’t know enough about a fundraising area to ask meaningful questions. That is entirely the point. When we know less about a topic, we have a different perspective and it’s our different viewpoint that enables us to ask questions that people fully immersed in the topic are simply not able to ask.
Let me share an example from Southwest Airlines.
Some years ago Southwest Airlines ran a programme that included people from in-flight, ground, maintenance, and dispatch operations. For six months they met for 10 hours a week, brainstorming ideas to address the broad issue: ‘What are the highest-impact changes we can make to our aircraft operations?’
At the end of the six months the group presented 109 ideas to senior management, three of which involved sweeping operational changes. The Chief Information Officer said that the diversity of the people on the team was crucial, mentioning one director from the airline’s schedule planning division in particular. ‘He had almost a naive perspective, his questions were so fundamental they challenged the guys had worked on for the last 30 years.’
Southwest Airlines approach put them in the top 20 on the innovators index. Check out some of the innovations that they have implemented over the years here.
So next time you are starting on a new project, don’t just accept the usual way of doing things.
And if you’d like some help to think differently then you’ll benefit from joining the Lucidity Facebook community – a place to ask ‘stupid questions’ and get advice and support from a dynamic group of individuals. Join here.
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