Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Are We On The Same Page?


This happened to me today. If you've read previous blog posts, you know we are working on an innovative student voice project at Forest Hills Northern High School around school improvement. In what I thought was a clear question on readiness for next steps, I managed to thoroughly muddy for the water for a few minutes. I only knew it was muddy because our students felt comfortable enough to seek clarity. If they had not, they likely would have complied with my request as best as possible, and I would have assumed, at least for a period of time, that we were all on the same page. 

Instead, based on their feedback, I realized I had been utterly confusing, and we were not even in the same book. What was clear in my head was not clear to anyone else but me. Together, we created a readiness question that everyone was able to understand and answer. Then, productivity soared:


Our ability to co-create an understanding was vital. But this got me to thinking...how often in our creative and innovative efforts do we miscommunicate or under communicate? And how often does it lead to confusion, resistance, and perhaps even the death of a great idea?

I needed to check for understanding. I could have easily done it by asking someone to paraphrase my question. If that person's paraphrase did not jive with my statement, I would have had instant feedback. If it did jive with mine, anyone else in the room who thought differently would have had instant feedback. Same book, same page. Lesson learned.

When we are working with innovative projects, it is really important to make sure that our collaborators or audience share a common understanding with us. Not only does that breed clarity, but is also enables the group to move forward and be even more creative. The time we spend on the front end to ensure clarity is repaid in multiples on the back end with the ideas, products, and structures the group is able to generate.

Join the conversation...
How do you ensure clarity around innovation processes or projects?

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