Clients are crying out for innovative thinking across all aspects of their business: operations, finance, customer and supplier relationships, company culture, talent management and more.
Any client who can reach out to an adviser brimming with new ideas and a continuously fresh perspective stands a better chance of, not only staving off the threat of more innovative competitors taking their place, but of creating their firm’s own future.
The strength of weak ties
As consultants, we don’t each set out to provide this innovative thinking alone. We rely on our firm’s internal resources, professional training, and, most importantly, the spark and growth of ideas from within our own network of colleagues.
Aspiring to form close bonds with these colleagues is natural. Doing so supports the development of relationships based on mutual trust and respect, and makes them ideal advocates of ours in interactions with other colleagues and with prospective clients.
And when we come up with a new idea, these strong ties will do all they can to help us propel it from concept to reality.
But over time, people in exclusively close-knit networks find their views converging, the rigour of challenge diminishing and the diversity of their ideas shrinking.
Conversely, ideas held within a network also featuring weaker personal connections, are more diverse and more innovative.
So how can we know whether our own networks are inadvertently filtering out the explosive spark of ideas from weaker personal ties?
Launchers and Detonators
In considering how effective our network is in supporting our own innovative thinking, it can help to think about two different colleague-relationship types:
- ‘Launchers’ – doing all they can to propel us upwards on the idea path we take to them.
- ‘Detonators’ – providing (often uncomfortable) challenge and questioning as to whether we’re on the right idea path at all.
Interacting with Launchers feels good and we often develop strong ties with this type of colleague as a result. Launchers should be the mainstay of our internal networks.
Detonators can leave us feeling shell-shocked and disoriented. Looking to form close personal bonds with them feels less natural and as such the strength of our ties with Detonators is often weaker.
Despite this, including Detonators in our networks is essential to giving our clients the creative, innovative thinking they need.
Our simple interactive tool (below) will help you start thinking about the role a given colleague plays in your pursuit of new ideas and a continuously fresh perspective.
Applying the tool across your network of colleagues might reveal that you’re in need of some Detonators to help shake things up.
(The below tool is free. You do not need to register nor enter any details in order to use it.)