The Human Side of Innovation
Successful innovation relies on capturing the ideas and feedback of real people, whether internal stakeholders (like innovation team members and leaders) or external stakeholders (such as current or prospective customers). Each person’s unique skills and abilities can be leveraged throughout the innovation process, from gathering an initial understanding of customer needs to brainstorming and building product concepts designed to meet them.
Knowledge of cognitive style plays an essential role on multiple levels during this entire process. It:
- Improves communication and helps everyone involved understand what each contributor is trying to say as well as the need behind each statement.
- Smoothes the way for greater, more meaningful engagement by removing barriers and natural obstacles that pop up when people from different backgrounds and experiences come together.
- Offers a way to bridge the gap among different modes of self-expression and language use so that participants spend their energy on finding common ground rather than focusing on potential conflicts.
- Provides a means for self-awareness, explaining why certain kinds of tasks or experiences feel more comfortable than others.
- Supplies a roadmap for building skills to shore up shortcomings and build on strengths.
In short, knowledge of cognitive style is an invaluable tool that gives each user a degree of flexibility and interpersonal skill that permeates each step of the innovation process.