CREATE GREAT CONVERSATIONS and MAINTAIN IT
Great Idea Hunters are in the habit of cultivating great conversations, both planned and by chance. They may be with work mates, clients, friends, acquaintances, or perfect strangers. Idea Hunters have to put themselves “in the line of fire” of ideas, and conversations are the primary way in which to do so.
While almost anyone can be a valuable conversation partner, some people have a special place in the communication flow, either because of what they know, how they learn, or how they embody all of the essential links in the conversation chain and spread their knowledge via informal communication. These “gatekeepers,” or connectors, are important people to know and talk to. They generally do not come from upper management, but they are like “switches” through which ideas flow through an organization. Their characteristics include the following:
*They are more likely to keep up with literature in their field,
*They attend more professional meetings and meet more people than anyone else.
*They are accessible to large numbers of people.
*They recognize connections between what some people know and what others are looking for.
*They make connections for people and can be trusted.
*They can help people find what they need to know.
It is important for Idea Hunters to figure out who the connectors are in an organization and build conversations with them.
Additionally, successful interactions require sending the right signals to partners. Some people are continuers of conversations, while some people are terminators. Continuers invite honest discussion and build ideas; terminators throw cold water on conversations and kill off ideas. Some people chase away ideas that might flow from a conversation without being fully aware that they doing so. Therefore, Idea Hunters should be aware of both their own and others’ intentional or unintentional terminating behavior. Though not all ideas can be acted upon, all should be welcome in a conversation.
Questions can be an important part of a conversation, and open-ended questions are preferable. Also useful are naïve questions. Actual experts might be too immersed in the details to step back and survey the big picture, and the so-called naïve expert” can get back to basics more easily than an expert who is highly invested in the current way of doing things.
In a sense, all idea work is a conversation. Idea Hunters talk to people who cross their paths, but they also hold conversations with what they read, hear, and see in the media. They pose questions, drawing connections and thinking critically about content. Most of all, they are engaged in an ongoing conversation with themselves. They must simply begin the conversation. From there they can continue the work of staying interested, tapping diversity, engaging in the practice of searching for ideas, and remaining agile to keep the ideas flowing.