The mountains that need to be moved, are in our consciousness.

— Reinhold Messner

Contact, and with it, communication is the lifeblood of every individual. Without interpersonal contact and exchange, we would wither away. Even babies interact with their environment and “communicate”. It is not for nothing that in the past the maximum punishment imposed on criminals was banishment.

Communication influences and determines the relationship between two individuals at micro-level and the culture of a team at macro-level. It even impacts business results. Although probably nobody denies the importance of effective communication, only a few start-ups and companies truly prioritise it and commit to continuously improving it.

Innovation is Communication

Ideas are doomed to fail if they are not heard or allowed to be voiced. Every successful innovation was once thought of first, then vocalised, heard and processed by others, shared, developed and reviewed. We have known for a long time that communication is much more than a transmitter-receiver-model and yet we fail regularly.

Basics ‒ Mental Models

Basically, it helps to keep in mind that we all have different mental models that shape our perception of reality. Yes, we all do! No two are alike. And yet, if we are tempted to think or assume this to be the case, failure is inevitable. So what can we do to increase the likelihood of mutual understanding and comprehension?

Here are a few basic tips:

Acceptance is the Key

Awareness of the existence of different mental models and acceptance of their individuality is an important requirement for successful communication. It is not a question of “right” or “wrong”, but of wanting to fundamentally understand the other person. Active listening plays a central role in this. At some point, we probably all have experienced that listening can take place at different levels of quality.

True understanding paired with a genuine interest in the opinions of others combined with active listening are also prerequisites for innovation to emerge. Awareness of environmental, technological and human issues and challenges can only develop if there is a willingness to understand the problem or challenge and to generate targeted solutions for it. This can only be achieved by individually improving our own way of listening to people, so that eventually we all really understand and comprehend other’s problems, motivations and challenges.

Unfortunately, communication is usually being confined to the last step of the innovation process. Although it plays a critical role throughout the entire innovation process. Whether in the beginning, to create an open and trusting team culture, or during the ideation Phase, where ideas need to be generated without judgement. This applies equally to start-ups as well as to corporates.

The main focus is usually on product development at the beginning. The team is manageable and communication chains are short. Nevertheless, it is essential to attach importance to the topic of communication at an early stage so that the start-up is scalable without losing potential along the way. That way the success of a business idea is not being jeopardised.

Companies are exposed to complex requirements when innovation processes start. Such as transparent communication. It gets everybody on board and avoids obstacles early on. Furthermore, it is worthwhile to develop and use management and employee communication as a central management tool.

Looking to break down barriers?