Communication in Innovative Thinking: Letter to a Cousin
If I were to write a letter to a cousin who asked me to explain what Communications in Innovative Thinking is, I’d stick to the exposure I’ve had with it to best articulate it. I’ll talk about communication and innovation both together and separately, and applications that, at the least, I’m familiar with. These include my ideas on from what, why, and to what ends communication and innovation originate and then manifest.
The applications are limitless for innovative thinking, but I think most of us find particular understanding of it best in a practical and business-like context. And why not? Innovation is the generation of a new idea or method (solution) to solve a problem. Essentially, every business and organization is just a larger-scale form of innovation.
I’ve also seen how smaller businesses are founded upon innovation and creation – a unique solution to a particular problem. I’ve worked in multiple companies, and seen others, who somehow let creativity run abound yet still be able to harness and turn it into a successful and impactful reality. In other settings, including my own small business, I feel I’ve experienced innovative chaos, where ideas are flowing yet none materializing. On another spectrum in classes and other work places, the creative mind is completely stifled and stuffy, and work seems colorless. These situations left me yearning for understanding in how to build innovative, fun, and colorful environments while not sacrificing efficiency or success, particularly in my own small business.
As I write this I’m realizing more that communication is the key to fostering and balancing innovative thinking. Appropriate communication can encourage creative thoughts while effective communication could perhaps help pinpoint which among thoughts is best. Below is a story with a few practical tips I learned from Professor Schultz, a marketing master at Utah State University, on how to build a creative environment.
A typical business environment, where people dress up in semi-formal business attire and work in a typical neutral colored office, in the same spot, each day, isn’t bad, but it certainly can stifle creativity. He shared with us that at General Mills (I think), when the marketing team needed to generate a new solution or product or product line, they would plan a 2 hour meeting in a bizarre and wildly colorful place. They wouldn’t dress up in the same attire as the other days, and they followed the brain storming rules that Dr. Parker, one of my communication professors follows (and I seriously appreciate it)! All ideas, any idea, was to be said, with no retort, bias, or judgement during the meeting. The honing process was to be later. Wild and crazy things are asserted which send everyone down another train of thought. All in all, most ideas aren’t too good, but that’s not that point. The fact that so many ideas are being socially and psychologically connected allows opening to more avenues of thought.
Professor Schultz taught us that so many people when trying to be creative, think that if they just think harder, or focus more, a creative idea will magically poof in their head, as if it was sitting dormant in their brain waiting to be awoken. But that’s not the case! Thinking harder is not going to generate more ideas, not nearly as much as connecting different forms of stimuli. When different stimuli and senses are engaged, more neurons connect leading to new trails of thought.
In end, my thoughts conclude on the notion that Innovation can seriously be revolutionary in its impact if it can first be fostered properly, and then tempered when given too much leeway. And appropriate and effective communication is the means to do just that – harness innovation in order to bring about success, although, that’s something I have much to learn about.
Grant Esser, Founder & Owner of Motilek Wood Bowties
While I didn’t talk about it much in my thought above, I found these articles seriously interesting about trait creativity, in psychological terms, and who is considered creative. The bottom reference is from the American Psychological Association.