From observation to breakthrough

From multiple observations come ideas. From multiple ideas can come new insights. From multiple insights we can create stories. From our stories, we can change beliefs. In a nutshell [my interpretation], this is what Gunther Sonnenfeld discusses in much greater detail in The Great Planning Paradigm. Sonnenfeld’s post is focused on marketing, an area where I have little experience.

I find The Great Planning Paradigm is a good framework to look at innovation (breakthroughs) in general. It also aligns with personal knowledge management (PKM) or those routine behaviours that we can practice and perfect in order to enhance learning and innovation at an organizational level. The PKM framework of Seek-Sense-Share has several similarities. Observations equate to Seeking. Insight equates to Sensing. Telling stories equates to Sharing. It is most interesting to see a connection between PKM and marketing, something I would not have considered. Everything, it seems, is connected.

In PKM and innovation I showed how Seek-Sense-Share aligns with the four skills that most successful innovators exhibit. The framework has similarities with the four innovation skills noted by Scott Anthony, author of The Little Black Book Of Innovation. Seeking includes observation through effective filters and diverse sources of information. Sense-making starts with questioning our observations and includes experimenting, or probing (Probe-Sense-Respond). Sharing through our networks helps to develop better feedback loops. In an organization where everyone is practising PKM, the chances for more connections increases.

Collaboration is working together for a common objective, while cooperation is openly sharing, without any quid pro quo. Both are necessary in order to connect the work being done in organizations with new ideas outside the organizations. Innovation is not so much about having ideas, as making connections.

I recently explained the Seek-Sense-Share framework in my session with En Nu Online in the Netherlands, with quite positive feedback that the image below helped to convey how it worked. We seek new ideas from our social networks and then filter them through more focused conversations with our communities of practice, where we have trusted relationships. We make sense of these embryonic ideas by doing new things, either ourselves, or with our work teams. We later share our creations, first with our teams and perhaps later with our communities or even our networks. We use our understanding of our communities and networks to discern with whom and when to share our knowledge. Sometimes, timing is everything.

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4 Responses to “From observation to breakthrough”

  1. Curtis Conley

    This is great- thank you for sharing. As it happens I was just trying to create something very much like the collaboration/cooperation visual to explain activity/collaboration in each of these different areas. Problem solved. :)

  2. Debbie Morrison

    Hi Harold, The connection you make between innovation and PKM is interesting – I had never considered the overlap, but now I see they do in many ways. Innovation is part of the story telling – the stories that are created through collaboration and sharing, which even on a small scale can lead to new ways of thinking, perspectives – and perhaps even making one more adaptable to change.

    Last week in a course I am taking, Current/Future state of Higher Education [a MOOC with S. Downes and G. Siemens] the topic was entrepreneurship in education. In studying the various ed tech start-ups, it’s apparent there is a ‘story’ around each, and not that I think about it – a level of collaboration/sharing – the entrepreneur got his or her idea from a network. In a post I wrote summarizing the week, ed tech innovators all have a compelling story.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Debbie

  3. Yvonne van der Pol

    Hello Harold, thank you for this blogpost. I participated in the mentioned webinar, which was very inspiring. Your models were very helpful. What I also clearly remember is that you clearly expressed the relationship between diversity and innovation. Do you have special blogpost about this topic? Please keep me informed about that. Besides I’m also quite curious whether you have done any research about the possible crosscultural differences in using social media for online learning.