Collaborate with Divergence to Carve Out Innovation
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Collaborate with Divergence to Carve Out Innovation

innovationAt the very font end of innovation, during the initial stages of conceptualization, collaboration is key to fleshing out, building on, and shaping your notions.  You could try developing an idea yourself, within your own mind, but after a while, your efforts will hit a point of diminishing returns and the effort becomes counterproductive.  The best way to convert your ideas into innovation is through collaboration.  Your success in this stage is based on your ability to find and interact with diverse groups of “positive” minded individuals who think creatively and freely provide constructive feedback.

Be Open to Positive Feedback

The goal of collaborating with positive mindsets is not to receive feedback from irrepressible optimists with a tendency to find good in everything, but to consider all perspectives that will help you craft the best possible solution – even when it means altering your original ideas beyond recognition.

A positive mindset is critical because when optimistic, we broaden our worldview and expand our attentional capacity. This is true perceptually as well as cognitively based on what we see outside of us and internally through our mind’s eye.  When we are negative, our minds narrow and become prone to overlook good ideas or diminish their value – either of which does not make a positive contribution to furthering our cause. 

Divergence and Innovation

innovation Divergent thinking is required during this gestational stage.  You want to focus on opportunities and possibilities with a generative frame of mind.  However, it’s equally important to work within defined constraints as well.   While the word “constraints” gives a limiting impression at first, the opposite turns out to be true.  Constraints make up the resistance needed to gain traction, and get started within the guardrails of your attention and focus. Ironically, boundless freedom often leads to debilitating paralysis when an overwhelming number of options exist.   

For example, knowing that your project is going to have to resonate with a particular target market is a positive restraint that will improve the effectiveness of your solution. If you had to “speak to everyone” with your innovative solution, finding a truly innovative solution could prove exceptionally daunting.

The Difference between Constraints and Biases

While divergent thinking facilitates generative ideas, biases can curtail creative thinking, and cripple the imagination. Everyone has biases, and there is no escaping them.  We are aware of some of them, but not all in all situations.   It’s important that while hunting for breakthrough ideas that all team members be cognizant of offering biases instead of divergent ideas.  Before dismissing any ideas based on what could be considered premature judgments of bias, verify that conclusions are based on what is correctly classified as a fact, opinion, or a guess (F.O.G.) because when misunderstood, they can become fabricated obstacles that need not exist.  

While there is nothing wrong with doubt or skepticism, a priori snap to decisions do cause problems.  Focus on shaping and formulating viable options opposed to squelching or stifling contributing thoughts that could potentially serve as triggers to new ideas.  The creative process is a tangential, non-linear path comprised of springboards to new directions, so it’s important to let concepts run their course before prematurely deciding their ultimate fate without full consideration in the early stages of creativity.

Paradigm