Living overseas, in Israel for almost 6 years gave me an opportunity to experience me a series of challenging harsh realities, including “if you don’t network, you don’t work”! Like many of us, I developed my consulting and learning and development business in the days when networking was largely centered on personal and business promotion, focusing on facilitating business development.
Living and working in the ‘start-up nation,’ within a connected and entrepreneurial culture awakened me to the shift disrupting the networking paradigm. It is now one of the key foundations and enablers of innovative leadership and successful entrepreneurship.
During the research and development process involved in designing one of my free monthly webinars -‘Leading for Innovation’ I realized that leaders have further shifted the context of their role to become ‘connectors!’
Making connections enables leaders to lead whilst making fluid decisions in our age of upheaval!
Most of us are aware that we live within an interconnected world, largely enabled by technology. Yet how many of us realize the deep implications and are enacting the possibilities and opportunities this connectedness allows us?
As individuals, some of us are making Friends on Facebook, acquiring serious business contacts and posting via Linked In, sharing our blogs on Tumblr and posting the pictures we love on Pinterst and Flickr. This is only the tip of the ‘connections iceberg’ impacting the current a digital social revolution.
Creating a tipping point, in exploding creativity and diversity of thought, generating ideas and redefining how we communicate, interact and develop relationships with one another.
How does this relate to innovation and leadership in the 21st century?
An innovative leader is an inherent ‘connector’ who confidently, courageously and compassionately networks across differing and diverse teams, business units, fields, and multiple disciplines. They are curious and create coalitions of networks by seeking people’s ideas and input via a range of novel and interactive channels to:
• Harness and maximize difference and diversity of thought, ideas and solutions in organic and autonomous ways to elicit the ‘out of the box’ thinking that affects change, results in creative ideas and innovative solutions.
• Create increased speed and agility to deal with strategic issues and threats, as well as to solve business problems by transforming them into commercial business opportunities, creative ideas and innovative solutions that people value and cherish.
• Mobilize and leverage people’s knowledge, skills and experience to solve systemic challenges that cross multiple disciplines, geographies, industries and systems to promote global, regional or corporate sustainability, growth or value.
Developing an innovative culture requires focusing on connections!
In a recent HBR blog, ‘Collaboration Is the New Competition’, Ben Hecht suggested that;
Leaders and organizations are acknowledging that even their best individual efforts can’t stack up against today’s complex and interconnected problems. They are putting aside self-interests and collaborating to build a new civic infrastructure to advance their shared objectives. It’s called collective impact and it’s a growing trend across the country”.
Networking initiatives enable organizations to make collective impact
- They make deeper connections internally as the knowledge, skills and experience of any company is essentially within the heads and hearts of their people.
- They connect externally and empathically with their end users to harness their aspirations towards improving their experience to promote advocacy and retain their loyalty.
- They connect systemically with the key players in their value chains, to improve efficiencies and increase speed to market.
Additionally most innovative organizations are adopting an ecosystem perspective as a way of collaborating and flowing midst the growing global chaos. They use innovative social technologies to engage and collaborate across private, public and social sectors to promote sustainability, reduce costs, increase business value or growth and increase competitiveness.
The Medici Effect and creating breakthrough ideas
In his groundbreaking book, ‘The Medici Effect’ author Frans Johansson describes a fascinating journey to “‘the intersection’: a place where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, departments, and disciplines collide, ultimately igniting an explosion of ideas leading to extraordinary innovations”.
Breakthrough ideas are most often ‘intersectional’ and occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory.
Some simple networking tips!
Networking is a learnable skill set – to initiate and develop this vital skill set leaders are required build the foundational growth, collaborative and adaptive mindsets.
They embody and enact an emotionally agile courageous, confident, compassionate, generous and curious way of be-ing, by putting themselves ‘out there’ in the world because it’s about:
1. Taking the attention off ‘me’ and paying deep attention (being focused, open minded, hearted and present to the whole system) to the ‘other’ you are interacting with.
2. Knowing how to listen generatively (very deeply and from the whole system) for possibilities that are present in the conversation, group or presentation.
3. Knowing how to ask deep and powerful generative questions that disrupt and provoke peoples thinking, capture their attention and facilitate options, possibilities, opportunities and answers to questions that could not have possibly conceived by a single individual.
Networking creates these intersections and exposes us to a range of creative opportunities and possibilities and gives us with the chance to sense the random ‘bits and pieces’ that help develop the ‘associational muscle’ to perceive and enact the world differently.
Innovative leaders use networking to explore the seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas to create breakthroughs at the intersections of diverse disciplines & fields.
This leads to the discovery of new directions resulting in the Medici Effect-which is of course what innovation is all about!
If you are curious & keen to explore why creativity and collaboration the key levers for innovation, then register at https://www.imaginenation.com.au/free-monthly-webinars/for ImagineNation™’s first free 45 minute “Teaming creativity and innovation” webinar for this year. It’s on Wednesday, 2nd March at; 12.00pm Tel Aviv, 11.00am Central Europe, 3.30pm New Delhi, 10.00am London, 6.00am New York, 9.00pm Sydney, Melbourne & 7.00pm Perth.
Register now at https://www.imaginenation.com.au/free-monthly-webinars/
Also check out the only ICF CCE accredited online innovation and entrepreneurship program and top up your toolkit to better help your clients succeed and flourish by transforming complex business and wicked problems into innovative solutions that people will value and cherish. Register now at https://www.imaginenation.com.au/coach-for-innovators/
image credit: vector-eps.com
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Janet Sernack gained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from 30 years experience in manufacturing, retailing and learning and development businesses to Australia’s and Israel’s’ top 100 companies. She resides in Israel where she founded a start-up, ImagineNation™ that teaches innovative leadership and start-up entrepreneurship via The Start-Up Game™.