I’ve talked about the consequences of thinking outside the box, and I prefer to walk along the edge of the box. Getting there as an organization requires synchronicity: your thinking process has to come from people who share our point of view.

It may seem like an oxymoron, but synchronicity is  achieved by diversity. Your team will come from different backgrounds. What unites you? Your commonality could be knowing what you don’t want to be.

Here’s what I’ve learned about what teams must not be to prevent what they don’t want to become:

  • It’s not a walk in the park. There are a few obstacles you’ll have to overcome. The biggest one is usually basic communication. An outsider probably won’t know the particular lexicon of your industry. If your everyday conversations with team members is peppered with acronyms or terms you don’t commonly hear, you’ll have an education process to accomplish first with your fresh idea thinker.
  • Make sure your team discusses and agrees with the need for different opinions. Make it clear that everyone has permission to disagree with your current status quo. Because at certain levels, you’re asking to hear conflicting – or at least alternative – points of view. It often does not go over well. The Greeks killed the bearers of bad news.
  • Consider making one person on your team the official sponsor of contrary thinking. This team member’s primary responsibility will be to champion dissent by finding ways to connect what’s currently believed and what’s presented as food for thought. Who on your team is best at analogies? This isn’t a new concept. In Medieval times, you’d have been called The Fool. (Stop and read this before you decide you’d be crazy to accept this role.)

The converse of this exercise works, as well. If you are inside an industry and you’re looking for a fresh perspective from someone who thinks outside your box, get out there and find an expert.

Just remember: you may not like what they have to say, but don’t shoot them. You’d be spilling the lifeblood of your own innovation.

So sayeth the StickMonkey

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