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Communicating The New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation Paperback – August 12, 2013
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Why this book? Why now?
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".
From the Back Cover
A practical toolkit for using communication at every step of the innovation process
Many creators of The New are paying attention to the growing body of methods and frameworks for managing innovation. But among innovation management methods, what is missing is an equally considered and robust playbook for how to explain that workto ourselves, to our teammates, and to othersand for how to engage others in advancing new ideas into organizations and markets.
Communicating The New reframes the role of communication in the innovation process as a powerful integrative tool for individuals and teams. It introduces core concepts and methods that help manage complexity; accelerate synthesis; and clarify and diffuse important knowledge for the people who need to act on it. To do so, it presents a framework and methods to help innovators address five distinct moments in which communication methods can advance the development process. Along the way, the book outlines a new communication mission for innovators, one that prioritizes the engagement, alignment and judgment of the many human beings involved in the work, so that communicating The New and creating The New become inseparable acts.
This innovative guide:
- Reveals how to use communication to tame and frame the inherent complexity of creating The New
- Offers robust methods for making the innovation process clear, coherent, and accessible to others
- Presents a collaborative approach that brings together people from different disciplines to explore new ideas effectively
- Applies to the creation of new products, environments, processes, policies, experiences, and more
Top customer reviews
However I think the book fails to build an effective model around the subjects. Several of the points around the five-step model (the last three) fail to make any sense as to offer something new (or productive in my interests). It's more like trying to recycle "known knowledge", alas from advertising or NPD, put in some clever-motivational-graphic-technical terms and there-you-go. Not what I expected. And to be even more fair, this is the third time I feel the same after going through a book printed by Wiley. Do take extra time pondering should you be thinking of buying from this editorial.
Why 3 stars then? Well the first two points in the five step model did give me important light as to where find the knowledge I was truly seeking: Information design and techniques to elicit hidden subconscious knowledge.
I'm glad I went beyond the foreword into a very idea-rich and well-organized text that is very attractive and features helpful graphic examples. It incorporates information and examples from a broad range of sources, from consultants, engineers, and designers to pure academics. It is engaging and itself serves as an example of excellent communication technique.
The conclusion summarizes the content quite well: this book "provides a framework for including communication methods in the innovation process." It defines three types of new information: complex, unfamiliar, and emerging. It discusses four communication modes: collaborative, experiential, transfer, and pull. It also provides twenty methods and tactics for implementation. The focus is specifically on communicating at the edge, where new ideas are created and encountered.
This book covers a great deal of diverse information, some of which is likely to be useful to almost anyone involved in innovation. It would be especially helpful for people who are in fields such as engineering or medicine where practitioners are not usually educated in or experienced with advanced communication strategies or techniques but find themselves in a position where they are needed. For someone in that type of situation, it would be inspirational.
One of the useful tips is not to oversimplify complicated information. It would seem to be a good idea, but isn't effective in practice.
That said, the language and the phrasing of much of the text in this book just struck me as forced and, worse, had me (and others I shared this with) saying :What? What are they talking about? I've read tons of textbooks on this subject along with other books that address the ideas covered in this one. They don't leave me saying: Stop trying to be clever. Be clear. Simplify.
Reading bits like "Harness the elasticity of language. Use language as a probe..." and "Contrast can reframe conventional thinking" and "Elaboration Likelihood Model" makes me wonder just how good these folks actually are at delivering authentic, real-world communication--especially the world we live in today where the average person doesn't read, has the attention span of a gnat (if that) and can barely spell let alone compose complete sentences that are grammatically correct with appropriate punctuation. I know a lot of creative types who could benefit from the material covered here but who will never read a book in this style. Even with the great integration of visual elements.
Maybe this book is aimed at a very rarified audience. (Although I shared this book with someone who is a creative director at a company known for its innovative products and even she was rolling her eyes at some of the material. Her work life revolves around getting creatives to communicate so that others --the clients, the customers--can actually understand them so she's familiar with this kind of text and approach.)
A lot of the language just seems so forced. Clever for the sake of being clever. It reminds me of a lot of consultants and consultancies we worked with over the years in corporate communications with their over-the-top creative. There's a fine line between a memorable-and-accurate phrase or wording and plain old gobbleydigook (SP?).
This is a significant criticism. But if you can overlook this style, and dig deep, you will find some interesting and valid ideas. If you haven't even heard of a lot of the material contained in the book, it may even sound like the most creative tome on this topic. (If you're in the field of communications, you'll recognize what is merely a new way of positioning what a lot of folks have been doing without sticking clever labels on it. It's a good job of repackaging and positioning "old" material in some cases even as it brings a truly original approach to other concepts.
I really liked the use of infographics (though I wish a number of them had been rendered larger on the page and I have 20-20 vision.). They also did a good job of integrating visual elements (although not all of them, in my opinion, were good choices for the points they were making) and breaking up the material so it didn't seem too dense. Small things like using color-coded color blocks for sections show a thoughtfulness for details.
If this book intrigues you, I suggest you check out a copy before purchasing. You'll either buy in or opt out of purchasing (a reflection of the multiple author's own abilities to communicate their value?). If you do purchase, know that you don't need to buy into everything that's thrown at you. Pick and choose what's relevant for you.