Getting Beyond the Usual Suspects in the Quest for Innovation

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Develop a deep understanding of your problem. Break the boundaries of the problem apart to understand it holistically and functionally to get to its root.

Develop a deep understanding of your problem. Break the boundaries of the problem apart to understand it holistically and functionally to get to its root.

In facing a challenging problem we tend to work with the usual suspects: people we know, people who have backgrounds similar to ours, or known experts in a particular field. It’s human nature – we feel comfortable, safe, and established in our networks, our field, and our industry.

But when innovation is the goal, this type of collaboration isn’t game changing; it’s limiting. “Comfortable collaboration” can often produce predictable results. Many of us know the adage “If we work with the same people, doing the same thing, in the same way, how can we expect to get different outcomes?” Such is the case here. Problems become mundane and repetitive with incremental improvements rather than breakthrough opportunities for improvement and change.

Divergent Collaboration is a methodology that helps break the “usual suspects” mold by harnessing diversity and collaboration on business, product, and technology challenges.

In Divergent Collaboration, owners begin to understand their challenges and the outcomes they ultimately hope to achieve by staying in the problem until an innovative resolution is achieved.

Divergent Collaboration can be applied in your own innovation efforts:

  • Develop a deep understanding of your problem. Break the boundaries of the problem apart to understand it holistically and functionally to get to its root.
  • Consider unconventional resources. Who may be facing the same core problem in another field or industry? How have they approached it?

There are so many interesting people in the world doing great work resolving a universe of problems. The chances that someone else has dealt with your problem or has value to contribute are high. Once identified, tap their brains. Ask them questions to understand how they face their challenge and invite them to offer feedback about how they view your approach to your problem. Are there any techniques, tips, or tricks you could borrow and apply to your issue? Consider new ideas you can mine from your discussions..

  • Throughout the process resist the urge to rush to solutions. Be open to remain committed to exploring the problem so ideas have the opportunity to flourish and grow.

By sourcing ideas from alternative domains, new insights and ideas emerge that would be overlooked using classical approaches to problem solving.

The Divergent Collaboration methodology helps you get free of your own perspective, tap into a plethora of knowledge and make new and unique connections. It’s a fun, meaningful, and stimulating process. People, by contributing to something bigger than themselves, become inspired and achieve amazing results.

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About the Authors

Candace Dalmagne is the Innovation Program Manager at the Wright Brothers Institute’s IDEA Lab, a non-profit organization focused on powering collaborative innovation between government, industry, and academia.

Candace’s background is in environmental consulting, training and development, and cross-cultural program management. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a Bachelor’s in International Business and Spanish, both from the University of Dayton..

Bart Barthelemy, PhD, is the Founding Director of the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) and the current Director of WBI’s IDEA Lab, where he is responsible for providing innovative solutions to critical problems in science, technology and R&D. He is a nationally known consultant, facilitator and trainer and specializes in strategic, transformational, and breakthrough leadership, as well as innovation and collaboration for academia, government, and Fortune 500 companies.

 

Additional Reading

One Size Fits All – Finding the Right Strategy for Innovation

Change Faster or Die – Strategies to Stimulate Innovation in Your Company

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