It was in the middle of a particularly boring conversation that I recently had my eureka moment. It’s not that the vision I gained is going to challenge my understanding of the laws of evolution or anything as grand as that but it has, however, assisted me in understanding a little more the dynamics of creative thinking.
When a group of people get to know each other extremely well by spending a great deal of time together, the group tends move into what I now refer to as a 'dormant state'. It is not as if they are asleep as such, but they begin to interact in ‘Safe Mode’. The group tends to become very apathetic towards creativity and decision taking. It often becomes a completely dysfunctional group and splits into smaller sub groups or it becomes an operational team devoid of the desire for change. In either mode the group tends to become overtly resistant to any kind of change and is too often closed for genuine creativity. Only the daily news or office gossip can temporarily divert its attention this way or that.
I have observed this phenomenon on several occasions but only recently recognized it for what it is. When I first step into a company, it is a usual process for me to quickly identify areas for concern, I do this by asking questions, by challenging the ‘norm’ that I see, and in doing so, I sometimes inadvertently awaken new thought processes.
I try to encourage the consideration of a different reality. For example I often hear statements like: “The trouble with our company is that there is no real communication between departments”. I like to challenge these kind of statements with “how should it be? What is your vision of interdepartmental utopia”? I then try to set about taking the first step to empowering people to tackle their own complaints. In the case of non inter departmental communication, I would encourage the first steps to building it – sometimes it can be as mundane as identifying a simple topic of mutual interest or benefit and then setting up a small meeting between a few people from the two departments in question. Results can be surprisingly quick and very encouraging, especially if progress is encouraged with a mixture of self discipline and benefit focus.
If mankind is to continue to move forward and solve the desperate problems it is currently facing, then influence makers need to be constantly ‘awakened’; to be challenged by new ideas. Often this can only occur by the simple addition of a stranger into a settled group, a change in the team's dynamics. In this way our reality is are challenged and we are forced to decide on new paths to follow; this way or that, to resist or adapt, to accept the stranger into the group (enriching its dna) or to rejecting him or her completely? Either way, decison processes are awakened and with them oportunities for change, no matter how small, are born.