Orignally shared in the Rainforest Pulse in July 2018, the following post discusses the value of Paying it Forward when building innovation ecosystems.
Why is Listening so important to Innovation in Alberta?
Listening is a fundamental interpersonal skill; without it, communication is at best superficial. In the context o innovation, listening is a crucial skill. Adept listeners ask questions like "what problem are we really solving", "is this the right problem to be solving", or "what are the possible unintended consequences of our proposed solution", and they actively listen, rather than cosmetically listen, to the answer. Listening can generate real change, produce unexpected outcome, and foster real innovation.
There are 5 levels of listening, the lowest level being cosmetic listening and the highest level being emergent listening. Members of the Rainforest practice at least Empathetic listening - that is they listen to understand, not simply to respond.
"Connecting to the emerging future – to a future possibility that links to your emerging self; to who you really are." - Otto Scharmer, Presencing Institute
To master the art of listening to understand, try these tips:
Covey first recommends taking time to listen to yourself and understand your own core goals and values. This is a necessary step to as it allows you to consult your own values and goals before acting. Next, Covey recommends listening to others in order to become aware of the values and goals of others. This enables you to find common ground and thus maintain productive relationships. Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand is built upon empathetic listening, a skill Covey considers essential to effective communication. Covey emphasizes the power of going beyond mechanical responses of conversational listening but to instead feel what the speaker is feeling. Covey, as others, believes that the only way to establish communication in some professional and personal situations is by becoming, in small part, the person you are listening to.
We are all capable of seeing the world through the eyes of another, but most of us do not deliberately try to do so. Covey notes that it takes time and practice to learn this skill, but the reward is a whole new level of communication and problem solving. By acquiring the ability to see a situation simultaneously from multiple points of view, members of the Rainforest are able to truly innovate but truly understanding the needs of their end users, customers, or supply-chain.