One serious problem with Innovation.

If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist!

These days there is a tendency in many organizations, both national & international, to talk about “innovation” and how they are implementing it. It appears to be essential that any “quality” company can proudly state in its internal & external communication that it is an “innovative” organization. Where ever you go, everyone seems to be talking about it. There are even organizations that have created entire departments dedicated exclusively to the search for “innovation”. However, they are looking for “innovation” only in the development of their products (both old and new); in the opening of new markets; finding new niches for their products; new marketing techniques to stand-out from their competitors, etc. They do, however, seem to have forgotten one key element of “Innovation”: Communication.

Many senior managers seem to suffer from the “ostrich syndrome” (burying their head in the sand) and prefer not to think about innovation in other areas of their organization. Obviously, it is much easier to leave the rest of organization as it is – especially if it is functioning “O.K.” – after all, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it! – than to make improvements which might annoy / confuse employees,  make people uncomfortable or end the “quiet life” in the company.  The fact that the organization could function more effectively, with greater profits with (possibly) less costs and with the future (almost) guaranteed with an honest introspection to see where the rest of the organization could improve – or “innovate” – is either forgotten or passed over!

As a consultant & trainer in interpersonal communication, it seems illogical to me that an organization could begin the search for “innovation” without thinking seriously about how to “innovate” their own, often outdated, internal & external communication systems. As we all know, the communication inside and outside the organization is one of the most important elements in it’s success. However, it is an element that many senior managers don’t want to change, don’t think about or are afraid to.

There are many directors who reject tried & tested communication models of proven efficacy solely because they do not fit in with THEIR way of communicating with other people. This resistence to change seems to go directly against the spirit of  “innovation”.  One concrete and common example are in the traditional company presentation style: frequently they are just masters’s reading classes where the presenter just reads what is written on the screen which just unconsciously insults the audience who presumably all know how to read; The presenter turns his back on the audience which is guaranteed to break the communicative link; The Presentation is in a dark room where the presenter can’t see, or control, the audience; often there is a lack of structure and an overload of unnecessary data.

In these cases, the information does not reach the audience in a clear & understandable form which results in a waste of time and energy for both the presenter and the audience.  However, the colleagues of the presenter – out of a misguide sense of loyalty – often do not give real & useful “feedback” – they prefer to pretend that it was “great” so that the presenter does not feel bad and does not realize that his presentation has been “boring, too long, or with too much irrelevant content, etc”.  It is sad that this type of presentation is still seen by senior managers as being “Serious”, “professional”, “They way we have always done it”, “ safe”, “appropriate for an organization like ours”, etc. Presentations of this type come from, and now belong in, the past but many senior managers feel uncomfortable with presentations which are done in a different (and modern) style. The truth is that the world has changed a lot from the last century and frequently this is forgotten by senior managers – What functioned well 10 or 20 years ago, is less effective today because our communication systems have changed. Our clients have new ways of thinking; receiving & processing information; and what THEY need in order to learn or understand. Presentations should be made for the audience and not the presenter  – or his boss -who still live in the last century.

Thankfully, this situation is changing. There are now many leading companies & organizations where senior management ha had the wisdom & intelligence to examine the efficacy of their internal & external communication & have decided to standardize and “innovate” their communication style, both formal & informal, so that different divisions, branches or offices have the same training, knowledge and effective & elegant communication styles. These changes always result in better communication, increased motivation, enhance company image, both inside & outside the organization which results in greatly improved results.

Changing the old-fashioned & traditional communication styles is the best investment in “innovation” that a company or organization can make because it is by using innovative communication that you can show how innovative it is!

A question for senior managers: Why invest a fortune in time, money & resources in creating & maintaining “”innovation”” teams, if you can not elegantly and effectively communicate this “innovation” to your audience in the most effective form for THEM?

(c) ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., Madrid, Spain. November, 2012.

Bilingual web page (English & Spanish):

About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
This entry was posted in Advanced Communication, General Communication, Leadership, The Art & Science of Presenting in Public, Training & Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to One serious problem with Innovation.

  1. Mnemonist says:

    Very True, Ian, many argue, communication skills doesn’t have anything new. It is same old verbal and non-verbal communication. But, people should realize that exploring these two branches can bring tremondous interesting possibilities in both professional and personal life. A well writtten article, good emphasis of keypoints. thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s