Learning From Your Company’s “Collective Genius” – It Starts with a Question

By Breanna Banford, Social Marketing Specialist, Xerox Enterprise Business Group

I came across the video below from Fast Company’s Bill Taylor on MIXTV. I found the video on a group feed on the Xerox Yammer network (hint hint: great collaboration tool!) I watched the video because I was intrigued by the comments from the poster and the title of the video – “Are you a problem solver or a solution finder?” At first, the difference between the two seemed vague, but that’s what prompted me to watch.

In the video, Bill Taylor explained that people should start acting as solutions finders versus problem solvers by tapping into the “collective genius” of their organization. Bill added that solutions to problems often come from unexpected places – no matter the size of your business – perhaps the last person you’d think to ask.

I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be typecast purely due to your current professional title– it’s possible you’ve had many years of experience working in other industries and other roles. Therefore, sharing your perspective to solve a problem for your organization albeit one outside your typical job task-sphere – that’s a win-win in my opinion. Great leaders ask questions and tap into the unique insights from their employees, their organization, their customer advocates, the list goes on. It’s possible to mine this information in a passing conversation or by tapping into the social conversations taking place internally and externally, like what I saw on Yammer or perhaps a LinkedIn group discussion related to your business.

Could you be more productive and efficient solely by asking a question? You never know what response you’ll get in return! I can admit, some great ideas have come from conversations I’ve had with people who are completely outside of the “social media” realm. Talking with new people helps rev my creative engine to bring a new perspective to the work I do. When you admit you don’t always have all the answers, you open up the opportunity receive answers you never expected.

How are you learning from people inside or outside of your organization?

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  1. Dinesh Srirangpatna September 12, 2012 - Reply

    Leaders need to use a mix of participative, delegative and authoritative leadership styles. However, the participative leadership ensures 2 way communication (leadership, workers) and brings out organizational wisdom, most suited for firms in normal business environments.

  2. Breanna Banford (Xerox employee) September 13, 2012 - Reply

    Great add, Dinesh. I think that without the participatory aspects of leadership, the team or organization could end up feeling lost or separated from the higher level conversations. By incorporating 2-way communication, employees feel empowered and are better able to understand their connection to the company’s progress.

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