Join Nancy Napier for an in-depth discussion in this video Discipline 2: Thinking beyond your field, part of Building Creative Organizations.
In my research in consulting work with highly creative, high performing organizations, the CEOs and their employees are constantly on the look out for good ideas. So where do they find them? Remember from earlier that once best practices are documented, they become normal practices. That's why highly creative CEOs go beyond their own fields, to find new ideas. Many people talk about the dangers of operating in a silo, but looking beyond your field is easier said than done for some organizations. Blockbuster was a huge success initially.
People flocked to the stores to pick up DVDs, and settle in for a good movie. But what happened when Netflix entered the market? It offered another approach, allowing people to receive films by mail. And keep them, for as long as they wished. New business model for Netflix, missed opportunity for Blockbuster. Then, Netflix saw another trend. Customers wanted even more convienience, and immediate access to films. So, Netflix pioneered streaming of films and TV programs directly to customers.
So how do leaders look outside their fields for ideas? There are at least three ways. They bridge fields, they blend fields, and they transfer ideas. First you can bridge fields. That's what the actor Viggo Mortensen does. He's an actor, but he's also an author and a publisher. He reaches across fields and succeeds in more than one. By working in different fields, he can energize himself in each one. In a way, that's what Apple does. It's really good in design, and really good in technology. Second, people in organizations can blend fields or disciplines. Apple uses this method, by making a product both beautiful, and functional, and having high quality in both.
Finally, you can transfer ideas from one field to another. Think of (UNKNOWN) .org, it transferred the idea of venture capital, put it online for small investors, and took it to people in need in emerging economies. Venture capital from small investors, going directly to people who need it in other countries. So, one last example of transferring ideas from one field to another. What do you think an emergency room, and airline pilots have in common? What can they possibly learn from each other? Well, more than you might think. Hospital emergency rooms, have learned a lot from airline pilots about the impact of fatigue during crisis, about how teams under pressure can communicate better. And about how to anticipate and avoid problems.
So, some hospitals transferred those lessons into emergency rooms, allowing doctors and staff to become more efficient, less fatigued, and more effective. Now try this for yourself. Find a magazine from a field far different from your own. And see if you can find at least one idea in that magazine. That could be useful for your own organization's ability to solve problems in a new and creative way.