You have crafted a workplace environment that is rife with creative people developing fabulous ideas that will change the world. As the shelf life for the next “best thing” or the newest “best way” seems to get shorter, the opportunities presented to your organization can become increasingly fleeting. Do you have the leadership skills, the organizational structures, and the right people to move these fabulous ideas from inception to execution before they start collecting dust?
On the bumpy pathway from creative development to execution, there are many opportunities for distraction, wrong turns and detours. In order to develop that breakthrough that came from your divergent thinkers, you will need to have different skill sets in place for the next step. Convergent thinkers or teams are those that can sift between the different possibilities that have been developed and focus on the one that is most likely to be successful. Not only do they need a good understanding of the idea or concept as a stand alone, but they also need to understand how it can potentially fit into the broader context of the organization.
You need people who can choose the right fork in the road and make decisions on the fly. They also need to know the routes; the potential obstacles and have the ability to stay focused on the final destination.
You need people who can, not only see the speed bumps coming, but also can clear them out of the way or figure out ways around them. You need someone who can do the wet work.
You need people who are persistent and have a clear understanding of not only what you are trying to accomplish, but also why it is important.
In their book, Strengths Based Leadership Tom Rath and Barrie Conchie examined the importance of diversity in the construction of teams. Although the each member of a team need not be diverse in experience or skill set, the team as a collective should be. An understanding of synthesis is essential in order to successful move that idea from concept to innovation. What are the potential short and long-term implications for finance, human resources, branding, and communications if we are to move forward? Once the project has taken legs, are there mechanisms in place such as formative assessment practices or variance reports that can check multiple forms of progress along the way? There is likely not one person within your organization that can answer all of these questions. However, a well-constructed execution team will insure that the creative momentum that was developed earlier will not be lost by someone choosing the wrong fork.
Finally, the assessment aspect of these projects is crucial. They can often grow legs of their own and consume everything in their path if left unchecked. In his book Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull (@edcatmull) from Pixar talked about his colleague Andrew Stanton and how he used to say, “be wrong as fast as you can”. Chasing false leads can direct resources in directions that ultimately prove costly but unproductive. If the project is demanding high levels of resources, it should also demand equally high levels of attention to ensure it ultimately proves worthwhile.