Many of us know that the 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us and it will fundamentally change the way we live, work and play. According to the World Economic Forum:
There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
So how well you work with each other, especially with someone of another discipline will matter in terms of creating the type of solutions that are suitable for this new era. This might be easier said than done especially when you may have to bring together a group of successful specialists but it is certainly possible.
Here are six steps to unify experts and streams of thought
1. Clarity of purpose for the group
Before you assemble any team of specialists or experts, be very clear about the purpose. Ask if the individuals feel that it is their personal calling or passion to seek a solution to solve the problem that you have described. A lot of the challenges that we face today cannot be resolved through brief ideation sessions. They require a concerted effort like over years, and this will require stamina on the part of the individuals. So be clear about the purpose of the group, what problem it seeks to solve and make sure everyone resonates with the group’s purpose before going ahead.
2. Mutual respect is essential
By and large our societies still suffer from a syndrome of excessive competition, so naturally, when specialists or experts gather, they will tend to demonstrate individual competence and value. This might take a while in the beginning, but it is crucial to establish an atmosphere of mutual respect. Anyone who is serving as the facilitator must ensure that everyone’s views are being heard. Each participant must be able to respect the input from everyone. Without this, trust cannot exist, and any attempt at ideation will not go far.
3. Appreciation for each other’s expertise
Once trust begins to take root, each one must allow his or her mind to be ‘seeded’ by the value and perspective of the other person’s expertise. While each one of us has our strengths, we must be open to nurturing a rich garden in our minds as the group deepens in terms of mutual appreciation and learning. This does not mean being polite but once you are open to being seeded and the group starts to exchange ‘seeds of expertise’ then our ability to look at issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective increases, and soon we shall see the challenge with new eyes.
4. Explore unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory
Once trust exists, and appreciation for each other’s skills increases, then the ideation will start to go from trying to prove a point towards going deeper to solving the problem. And one sign of this will be the emergence of the willingness to discuss unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory. Like in our group today, with our CPG colleagues, we discussed the impact of beliefs, religious rituals and an attention-deficient generation on place-making and development.
5. Nurture a shared thinking framework
Once the group can explore the unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory, then a new type of lens emerge. This will then naturally result in a shared thinking framework which is the fruit of integrating different streams of thought during the process. On a scheduled basis, the group will have to ask each one to reflect on his or her work and how it has been influenced by the thinking of the group. Doing so will help you understand how far the group has come in terms of depth of thought and the impact of solutions design.
6. Clarity and impact of outcomes
To ensure that the ideation bears fruit, the group must always clarify the impact of the thought process on the problem and how to measure its value and effects. This then establishes a useful feedback mechanism and keeps the group faithful to its original calling and avoid hubris or simply indulging in the process of endless thought without action.
We live in challenging times but the solutions that are emerging from a multi-disciplinary perspective are equally incredible. We are fortunate to live in this age where we have so many opportunities to learn, share and think together. The crises of our time from terrorism, poverty, healthcare, business, climate change and much more will need not just unity of minds but also of hearts. Hopefully, you can help the others discover the incredible power of solving problems together when they learn to appreciate the richness of their minds, working as one.