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The Innovation Conversation


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Workshop delivered at KM Australia, 2 August 2016.

Published in: Business
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The Innovation Conversation

  1. 1. The Innovation Conversation: All of us are smarter than any of us Keith De La Rue
  2. 2. Using conversation to: • Make us individually smarter • Improve group performance • Increase innovation • … and share knowledge!
  3. 3. Getting there • Individual performance • Openness to change • The power of groups • Innovative places • Getting people together • Online spaces • Putting it all together • … Have a conversation and have some fun!
  4. 4. Individual Performance Table 7
  5. 5. Activity – Introductions • Introduce yourself by giving: – Your name – Where you were born – One interesting true statement about yourself – One false statement about yourself – (Not necessarily in that order!) • The rest of the group will decide which is which
  6. 6. Introductions • Have you got to know people better now? • Did you discover any false preconceptions? • How does this help with performance?...
  7. 7. Friends with cognitive benefits - Ybarra et al, 2010 Talking to others improves individual mental function
  8. 8. Brief, friendly conversations improve executive function - working memory, focus
  9. 9. Put yourself in other shoes
  10. 10. The Johari Window © Alan Chapman 2003
  11. 11. Openness to Change
  12. 12. Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards – Theodore Zeldin From David Gurteen -
  13. 13. Activity – Changes • Form into groups of two • Spread around the room • Wait for further instructions…
  14. 14. Changes • Stand face to face • How many things can you change in your appearance? • Look at your partner • Turn back to back and change three things in your appearance • Turn face to face and take turns identifying the three changes • Then…
  15. 15. Changes • How did you feel? • How easy was it to find three changes? • Does change always mean taking away? • How easy is change?
  16. 16. "...The kind of conversation I'm interested in is one which you start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person. It is always an experiment, whose results are never guaranteed. It involves risk. It's an adventure in which we agree to cook the world together and make it taste less bitter"
  17. 17. In conversation we… Transform facts Reshape them Draw new implications Develop new trains of thought
  18. 18. We must be open… “We risk impoverishing ourselves if we ignore the personal” - Gurteen
  19. 19. Conversation is intrinsically creative
  20. 20. … If we are prepared to change. The way we talk shapes what we do If we talk differently, life can be more interesting
  21. 21. Positive language Words > Pictures > Emotions > Actions Anyone have children around? “Don’t spill the milk!” “Don’t take out all the pencils!” “Don’t forget…”
  22. 22. So which gives the clearer picture?
  23. 23. The Power of Groups The Courage Beer Conversations Survey
  24. 24. Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups - Woolley et al, 2010
  25. 25. Ability to perform group tasks Independent of individual intelligence Whole greater than sum of parts Based from how the team works together
  26. 26. Collective intelligence Social sensitivity Equal turns No domination
  27. 27. Women and conversation More sensitivity
  28. 28. Leadership challenge: facilitation, not control Not easy for hierarchical organisations - or rugged individualists
  29. 29. Discussion – Meetings • When have meetings failed? • When have they worked well? • Would they have worked better if these patterns were followed?
  30. 30. Innovative Places The Geography of Genius
  31. 31. The recipe • Mentors • Freshness • Chaos • Discernment • Diverse groups of people getting together
  32. 32. The Enlightenment – C18
  33. 33. Social Entrepreneurs – C21
  34. 34. Casual Conversation • Steve Jobs bought Pixar in 1986 • Designed single building with large open space • Moved key functions to atrium – Mailboxes – Meeting rooms – Cafeteria and coffee bar – Gift shop – Bathrooms • “Best ideas arrive when having a chat”
  35. 35. Getting People Together Where Good Ideas Come From
  36. 36. Innovation – the Eureka moment? Progress is more about one door leading to another door Sharing and recombining ideas -> Conversation
  37. 37. … Don’t isolate the genius in the laboratory! The adjacent possible: eg printing press The multiple
  38. 38. Expect the unexpected The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny...’ - Isaac Asimov New ideas in science emerge more from lab meetings than from solitary research - Kevin Dunbar
  39. 39. Casual Discovery Spanning boundaries
  40. 40. Wisdom of crowds – cognitive problems Diverse membership Members thinking independently Knowledge pooled From: James Surowiecki
  41. 41.
  42. 42. Get people together in conversation Community
  43. 43. Conversational tools
  44. 44. Conversations for knowledge sharing and innovation – the Café…
  45. 45. A Tale of Two Cafés World CaféWorld Café Knowledge CaféKnowledge Café Started 1995 Started 2002 Community focus Business focus Uses community language Uses business language Addresses social issues Addresses business issues Defined structure Adaptable structure Uses Table Hosts No Table Hosts Results “harvested” Knowledge surfaced
  46. 46. Discussion – Conversational tools • What tools does your organisation use? • When have they worked well? • How could they work better?
  47. 47. Online Spaces We Think
  48. 48. Microblogging
  49. 49. Networking, awareness, chat!/groups/323447999676/ Any conversation helps!
  50. 50. Discussion – Online spaces • What online spaces does your organisation use? • When have they worked well? • How could they work better?
  51. 51. Putting it all Together
  52. 52. Activity – Knowledge Café • All except one person at each table move to a different table – choose the people who are the most different to you • Discuss: How can we use what we have learntHow can we use what we have learnt about conversation to makeabout conversation to make our workplace more innovative?our workplace more innovative? • Discuss for 10 minutes, then move to another table with a different group of people • Wrap up with open discussion
  53. 53. Conversations help us to … … find the missing pieces
  54. 54. … face complexity in organisations
  55. 55. … engage people
  56. 56. Five rules for more innovative conversations
  57. 57. Have we all been introduced and learned about each other?
  58. 58. Is everyone open and willing to change?
  59. 59. Are we being sensitive to each other and taking equal turns?
  60. 60. Is the talk friendly and constructive?
  61. 61. Do we have sufficiently diverse viewpoints?
  62. 62. Knowledge workers are simply those people whose job consists of having interesting conversations David Weinberger, The ClueTrain Manifesto @kdelarue 0418 51 7676