This is the final part of a four-part article on the Cross-pollinator persona from Tom Kelley’s book The Ten Faces of Innovation. Read the previous posts to refresh your memory:
Part One | Part Two | Part Three
It seems counter-intuitive, but many times Cross-pollinators will
intentionally seek out contraints in order to innovate. This goes
beyond the old adage, "necessity is the mother of all invention" and
understands that many times what we think of as necessary "givens"
aren’t actually all that necessary, and their presence may be hindering
A few suggestions to tap into your inner Cross-pollinator:
- Increase your fluency. Linguists understand that the
more languages they master, the easier it is to learn the next one.
Visit churches and businesses that differ from yours in order to gain
fresh insights. Read outside your normal realm of interest (try quantum
physics or horticulture, for example). Take an art class. Make your own
curtains. Give your team a greater variety of experiences and they will
start seeing new connections, and you’ll be well on your way to
fostering a culture of innovation.
- Travel often and widely. Seeing different cultures often
helps to engender creativity and innovation. People who’ve never or
rarely been out of their everday context have a hard time thinking
outside that context. When you get opportunities to travel, take them!
- Give it away. Jesus said, "Freely you have received. Freely
give." Many companies make a practice of giving things away, and it
oftentimes ends up increasing their visibility and ultimately their
bottom line. Kelley says giving things away can help your company’s
karma. I think it probably has more to do with "Seek first the kingdom,
all else will be taken care of."
- Practice reverse mentoring. Usually mentoring flows from the
older and wiser to the younger and less experienced. This is still very
valid, but oftentimes those who are older and wiser are also less
attuned to current trends, and need a younger person to "mentor" them
in thinking in fresh ways. If you want to see what’s coming next, talk
to someone younger than yourself. They’re immersed in a world you only
see from a distance.
As I said earlier, I believe that the church is going to need to
harness the creativity and power of Cross-pollinators in order to
thrive in the 21st century.
I found the part about ‘increasing your fluency’ pretty interesting. I’ve visited several churches in the last year, as well as participated in all manner of theolgy/religion forums online. I’ve certainly found that getting outside your own frame of reference is indeed a provocative way to learn to color outside the lines in our christian coloring books.
It’s helped me redefine what certain christian semantics mean for myself. It’s helped cure some major pride issues. It’s fostered a whole new paradigm for ‘unity’.
What do you see as a way to entice these cross-pollinators to step up to the plate? If they’re needed so badly in the Church, why are they so absent (or silent)? What has to change in order for these folks to want to offer their talents to the Church (either for the first time, or for a repeat performance)? These are questions I wrestle with as a disenfranchised evangelical. What would it take for *me* to jump back into the fray? I really don’t have an answer….
Benjamin Sternke says
I think it will take some good old-fashioned humility on all sides to be able to allow the disillusioned cross-pollinators to return.
The returners can’t be smug about their independence or open-mindedness, and those who never left can’t harbor bitterness. Humility and deep forgiveness is the way forward.