Encouraging the Spirit of Co-CreationIf you manage others and want them to generate innovative ideas, see this month’s tip about moving people from a mood of resignation to a spirit of co-creation. Many thanks to Darla Atwood-Donovan (WLC 5/99) for organizing and clearly articulating our coaching tip from Rayona.
The other day an alum shared a problem she was having with her direct reports. It seemed as if the direct reports didn’t feel listened to and instead felt that they were being ‘railroaded’ into doing things the way the alum (their boss) had determined was better.
The alum confessed that she was driving certain solutions because she believed that her solutions were more efficient and reliable than the ones the team had come up with.
What she didn’t realize was that she was breeding a culture of resignation, compliance and thus resentment among her direct reports.
We discussed some practices that would allow for the direct reports to experience being listened to without pandering to unsatisfactory solutions.
She is now working on the following practices:
Rather than making assertions, she is asking questions, such as ‘Say more about what you see here. ‘Tell me what you are out to accomplish by doing it that way…?’ ‘What are some other ways you see to solve this problem…?’
The practice of asking questions that reveal how the world occurs for another person must be done from a place of authenticity. Suspend the arrogance of knowing and what you will foster is a spirit of co-creation.
Once you have really listened to the other person you can engage in an honest dialogue about what is the optimal solution for any given situation.
Obviously this coaching doesn’t apply to every situation, but people are much more prone to generate innovation if they know that their points of view are respected and valid. People will be more open to see the flaws in their own thinking if some well-asked strategic questions allow them to discover it.
In this fast-paced, sound bite world of work it is seldom comfortable to slow down enough for this approach but the cost of feeding a culture of resignation and compliance is far greater than the time it takes to create a spirit of co-creation.