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Talking is overrated

To truly innovate, you must move beyond words

I really do not like innovation teams that only talk.

As a designer coming from a craft discipline, I do not understand teams that don’t build. I’m talking about teams who strive for innovation, or companies aiming to do innovative projects.

Everything is good in concept, and every idea is good when described because the delusion of perception fills in the gap. Since you are understood only through the perception of your audience, you may seem to agree at that point. But disagreement begins once you start drawing out your idea and defining how you really think things should work.

And that is a good thing.

You need to have a balance between disagreements and agreements. You need to listen and ask to understand deeper. That is why you need to draw diagrams and sketches or use metaphors, objects, role playing or acting — to really communicate your perception or idea. Innovation happens through communication, and communication is more than just talking.

Communication deepens by doing. I’ve seen a lot of leaders and managers talk about the ideal way of doing things — and then do the opposite when they lead. You’ll hear people talk about the importance of listening for hours. This is mainly why I respect introverted people more — they listen. I think we need more introverted leaders in big corporations, people who give room for others to talk. We need leaders who communicate sincerely to understand.

We need all types of people, which means that when thinking about diversity; companies should think beyond gender diversity. They should also cover diversity in styles of communication. Especially big organizations. That will enable and create more space for people to grow and communicate through building and doing.

Talking is overrated. Extroverts (can be) even more overrated. People who are not afraid of talking  even nonsense talking in front of a crowd — tend to get promoted faster. People who choose not to speak up as much, are always in the background. I see introverted people pushed to become more extroverted under the guide of getting “out of their comfort zone.”

It is not the introverts but rather the companies that should be getting out of their comfort zone. The companies that want to innovate, be better, strive for the new, and shape the future should give room and invent new ways of collaboration for people who communicate by doing.

Just talking is overrated, and it slows us down big time.