Looking back over 40 years one can spot major themes that have run through much of my work. Here are some of them:
- Interacting disciplines
- Research-based decision-making
- Good Information the mother of ideas
- Working within parameters given
- The importance of freedom to experiment
Let’s unpack them..
Interacting disciplines together can produce some interesting results. Fusing the strengths of one discipline with those of another leads one to make discoveries that have originality and reflect innovation at its best.
Take design for example…when one fuses fine art with engineering it releases powerful creative designs that are grounded in reality and are eminently doable. Another example from the broadcasting world comes from combining communication theory with church growth principles. When we did that we discovered ‘Radio Church’ and applied it to broadcasts to both China and the USSR (as it was then)…
Research too easily becomes a buzz-word as a possible solution for any kind of problems you face. ‘Do research’ is the simplistic answer. Yet that is only true if the research project s well constructed and there is a willingness on the part of the sponsors to work through the findings – however unpalatable they may be. Informed research, on the other hand sheds light on circumstances and leads to good decisions being made. Research does not exist for itself but to inform decision-making at the management level as well as further down the ranks.
Good information often stems from good research, but not necessarily… A steady flow of up-to-date information either from the front-line, or from the broader context is invaluable to people who generate ideas.. It sparks idea and innovation in a world where change is endemic and the most sought-after people are those who have this information at their fingertips.
Working within parameters given is something we often shy away from and yet doing so can afford an exciting challenge. We don’t say something is impossible – we just push through and maximise the opportunity that is given to us – regardless of the constraints. Regardless, too, of our original plans and ideas…
Freedom to experiment is perhaps one of the things I appreciated the most – because it was so liberating. Just to know you have the boss’s full support and encouragement means a lot. It implies also the freedom to fail, to make mistakes – and not be condemned for it.
Community-centredness is a must for communication within communities we serve. It is about them – not us. We exist for them. We want to empower them. In fact there is no us and them. It is all ‘us’.