For the past couple of months, I’ve been learning a new framework for problem solving. Jeremy Houchens, Jenny Banner and I formed an “innovation triad,” or so we’ve been dubbed by Culture Sync, the group that is facilitating our process. Here’s what I knew when we got started: we’d be learning from the minds behind Tribal Leadership, Dierdre from Culture Sync would be showing us the ropes, and we’d be working as a team to solve a problem.
While I’m learning a lot, this post isn’t about the methods (though perhaps once we wrap, I’ll write more about that), but rather some of the fringe lessons I’ve learned while participating in this process.
1) If you haven’t worked with people outside your normal sphere, go forth and do it!
I’ve worked at SmallBox for four years. Until about a month and a half ago, we hadn’t hired anyone for a year and a half. That’s a long time to go without introducing new collaborators into the work world. I’ve been really energized by learning from Jeremy and Jenny, their processes and approach.
2) Your perspective is unique. Guess what? The same is true for everyone else.
Part of our work has been interviewing people in our community. We record the interviews, then listen back to what we heard. One of the methods has us breaking down what we heard and pulling out words and ideas from their responses. It’s been fascinating to see what different things we “hear” from the same recording.
It was a good reminder to me how we all perceive and experience the things before us in our own unique way. And really, how cool is that? No one else sees the world like you do.
3) There’s liberation in silliness. It doesn’t have to be all serious, all the time.
Jeremy had been doing a little extra credit for the group, including trying like hell to find a fitting name for our triad. Early in our sessions, we took an inventory of skills, and one for Jeremy was humor. When it came to the name, he was definitely leaning on that skill.
For his naming process, he went back to some of the shared experiences we had. There was a walking meeting when we discovered a trail overgrown with mushrooms. In another session, we tried to tap into our collective outrage to frame up our problem, and we discovered are three of the least angry people on the planet.
The names he came up with pulled from those stories, things like Angry Mushrooms and later, the name that began to stick, the Mushroom Taco triad. I didn’t necessarily think the rest of the group gave a lot of validation to the name ideas at first. Angry Mushrooms and the like just seemed too silly to be the name for an official thing.
At some point I was won over by Jeremy’s investment in the naming process, and I made the mushroom taco image as a way to provide the validation I don’t think I’d given previously. It’s a good thing to be forced to reckon with my seriousness bias.
If anyone is curious about the triad or our process, I’m happy to talk more. Just drop me a note.