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Friday, July 15, 2016

Reach Out Reach Back: The Idea Dance

I tend to feel people out via email if I'm not certain about an idea.

It may not be the best way, but with some, I'm unsure whether it's safe or even possible to meet face to face, so I'll email a few ideas to see what the reaction is like.

Sometimes people react with warmth, interest, honesty, and or positive, inquiring questions. Sometimes people don't answer at all. And, sometimes people answer with a less than positive response--a response that makes me have to think about what's the best next step--just let it be, write again, try to meet?

When the response is open and positive, generally an idea takes its course in a collaborative, give-and-take way. With this response the course is friendly, streamlined, and focused.

When there's no answer, I sometimes write again and even again if the idea is worthy and supported by good research. And sometimes if there's no response, I'll find someone else to work with or reshape the idea and pursue it in a different way.

Negative responses are tough. If it's a colleague, I'll generally seek them out and talk about it--learn a little more. In other instances, I'll seek out more supportive environments and people for the idea.

Sometimes after a negative response, I'll try again after a while thinking that perhaps the negativity towards the idea has subsided, and maybe there's a new openness.

In the best of circumstances, educators will work on ideas with others--they'll strategize, organize, build, and promote new ideas with honesty, respect, transparency, care, and positivity. Many successful organizations have idea exchange and promotion systems as part of their research and development work.

New ideas take time, advocacy, conversation, and collaboration. The life of an idea is important with regard to the idea's successful implementation and growth.

In a sense new ideas take on a dance-like quality.

In general, if the organization is a solutions-oriented, developing institution, that dance may be challenging, but it will be embraced. But if it's the kind of institution that's satisfied with the way things have always been then the dance will be tougher--more like a parkour event with lots of jagged, varying steps reaching up and down with depth and stretch--a somewhat fearsome dance.

Conviction helps to steady the dance no matter what the circumstances, and with lots of practice, support, and perseverance that reaching-in-reaching-out variation will turn to a more steady approach.

In general, in the classroom, I mainly embrace and welcome students' ideas and try to support their reach for conviction, confidence, and creative, positive learning change and development.

So if those you work with tend to vacillate, there may be a reason for it. They may be truly looking for how to make new ideas come alive in ways that work--they may try to bring to life a vision, and a desire to work with others to make positive change or forward new ideas that hold promise and potential for an organization.

How do you test new ideas? Who do you work with in this regard? What's your process? How do you do the idea dance? I'm curious.