Thursday, February 10

The Left Hand MUSTN'T know what the Right Hand is doing

We often chide the organisations with which we work for their apparent poor communication.  If the "left hand doesn't know that the right hand is doing" then that's a bad thing, yes?

In the dissemination of information, it certainly is a bad thing.  But the purposeful separation of concepts in the initial stages of innovation can be a very powerful tool indeed, especially where functional divides are already deeply entrenched.

It's best to explain this paradox by example:

I often see product developers exploring opportunities in early collaboration with operational or IT staff, and just occasionally there's an immediate meetings-of-minds.

More often though, when the two groups meet too early we find that embryonic business ideas are killed-off quickly by a storm of parochial objections, and valuable process and technology assets just seem meaninglessly abstract in the context of the business opportunity.

If instead, we first support different groups in exploring their own worlds, we may find that when they do join forces:
 - There's much richer raw material for each to share
 - There are many more chances to link the two worlds (see figure)
 - There's a greater likelyhood of mutual respect and future engagement

But the two "hands" in the metaphor needn't always represent marketeers and technologists, they could equally well be ...
... analytical problem-solvers and creative problem-solvers,
... upper management and trainees, or
... researchers and service teams

We shouldn't think of this philosophy as counter-collaborative; in fact it allows us to guide the overall creative effort so as to make collaborations richer and ultimately more successful.  Initial introspection amongst the separate teams should last hours or days, never weeks or months, and should not be considered a valid end in itself.

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