Communicating the New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation

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Communicating the New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation

Kim Erwin

I believe something fundamental has changed in our world that is making the communication of The New—new products, services, businesses and systems— more difficult and standard communication techniques less effective. A number of factors have come together to create a new context for communication:

We are working on problems of increasing complexity. This complexity is hard to manage, structure and explain—and yet it is essential to establishing the relevance of The New. We cannot ignore the complexity nor reduce it to an elevator pitch without trivializing our work.

The creation of The New involves more people. The creative types— the scientists, designers, agency people, etc. have always had a hand in The New. Now, in an economy where speed of execution matters, we also need the “developers” – the engineers, marketers and IT specialists. Most critically, The New must be understood and embraced by the “doers” – the sales staff, managers and stakeholders of all kinds across the organization. This is no longer a problem of the producing the best idea; it’s a challenge of engaging, leveraging and aligning the human systems inside organizations.

We presume communication is occurring when in fact it is not. In most organizations we believe that delivering information—in presentations, in reports—is communicating to others. At a time when co-creation is becoming the norm, our communication techniques appear stuck in a transmission model. Our conventional arsenal of delivery-based methods is no longer up to the task.

I wrote Communicating the New to help those tasked with innovation better manage this new reality. It collects and describes methods for employing communication, in an integral way, throughout the creation of new products, services, messages, or experiences. It introduces concepts and methods to help manage complexity, accelerate synthesis, bring clarity and exchange important knowledge with the people who need to act on it. It is written for everyone who is involved in creating "The New"— from the account planner in advertising, to the manager of an internal innovation center, to the entrepreneur with a big idea. The aim of the book is functional: to provide a practical framework and tools that individuals and teams can use to help tame and frame the inherent complexity of creating "The New". And maybe, just maybe, it will make the hard work of creating "The New" a little bit easier.

This book is about more than just methods. In it, you will meet over thirty individuals at the forefront of creating "The New". Some are early pioneers; others are new arrivals. Some practice as consultants; others work directly within organizations. All share a new attitude toward communication. They use communication to clarify rather than persuade, deploying it not only at the end, but throughout the process to produce meaning and clarity, to advance ideas into concept, and to engage other people in advancing those ideas into the organizations and markets. This book draws from their experiences and organizes their advice into a more timely and considered set of objectives—a mission, even—for use by anyone who needs to communicate "The New".