Solutions Closer Than You Think
Answers can be hard to come by. But, as is so often the case, solutions aren’t that far away. But getting them takes a genuine willingness to think in new ways.
Being ready to be flexible ranks as one of our greatest human assets. Yet, we also suffer from inertia, thanks to our fear of change with its unknown potentials.
From workplace meetings to classrooms to conferences, the attractiveness of fresh ideas is tempered by anxiety about the new. So how do we overcome our innate resistance to innovative thinking?
Perhaps the best way is by setting up systems that let us explore new approaches as safely as possible to prevent undue risk. After all, betting a company’s money on a radical new product might have immense potential. But it could also ruin the firm if its release is badly managed.
Getting positive change and solutions to real life problems requires:
- A clear decision to invite and create new ideas
- An approach that lets us test them out in safe ways
- A mindset that says new thinking is just as valid as established approaches.
Many problems also remain unresolved because other groups resist change and thereby block innovation. Aside from fear, short-term self-interest, and overarching beliefs can stymy solutions by dismissing fresh ideas from the very get go (the “but we’ve never done it that way before brigade” are a good example of folk who are very wary of anything new).
However, somehow, we need to collectively move along together to solve problems. Given that the bigger an issue is the greater the resistance, it takes plenty of effort, patience, and education to bring about positive improvements.
Business theorists describe the spread of new ideas by pinpointing the reaction of key social groups. One approach, called the Everett Rogers model, sets out 5 types:
- Innovators – adventurous, educated people who get information from multiple sources
- Early Adopters – social leaders, who are popular and educated
- Early Majority – considered people with many casual social contacts
- Late Majority – distrusting individuals with a conformist mindset (and who may be from a lower socio-economic background)
- Laggards – who rely on their friends and neighbours as their main sources of information, and who don’t want to be seen doing the “wrong” thing or taking a risk.
What this means is that there are indeed different strokes for different folks and we need to communicate ideas in ways that make sense to the people we are with. Innovators, for instance, aren’t interested in matters of social approval in their choices. While, Late Majority people really do require that innovations be packaged as safe and acceptable.
So if you are feeling frustrated and feeling like you are hitting your head against a brick wall trying to convey new ways to find an answer, consider how these ideas are translated. That solution you seek could be closer than you think.
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