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Four ways Expeditions create space to explore crazy ideas


I have been fortunate enough to experience many great spaces during my life. From the spacious St. Paul's Cathedral in London, alone early on a Sunday morning, to the stillness of Red Square in Moscow at Midnight. From the intimacy of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, to the holiness of the Tabernacle at Simpson Park Camp in Romeo, Michigan. Each one transports me to another reality.

When The Exploration Group is Commissioned to do an Expedition our goal is to create spaces that transform ideas from something merely desired to something actually realized. To do that, we create "walls" to define the space, much like an architect, and we create "transportation" to move the ideas and thinking forward.

We have learned that the greatest deterrent to a new idea within an organization is the current organization. Change is often seen as a threat; anything that challenges the current reality is questioned then torpedoed. Not because those in the organization are against the idea, but because new ideas represent disruption. The rubric of most organizational thinking is management, repetition and continuity. Those are not bad for the sustainability of an organization, but not necessarily the starting point to birth something new.

Our goal at The Exploration Group is to launch Expeditions that create spaces for change. We become an entity that is part of the existing organization, yet separate enough to form a platform for the radical and sometimes crazy ideas to be safely explored. There are several guidelines we follow in developing this space for change. Here are a few of them:

  1. We are commissioned by and report to a decision-maker that is senior in the organization. This is critical. When the solution is discovered, and it's outside the box, having a senior decision-maker as part of the expedition keeps the idea alive and the exploration moving forward.

  2. We stay out of the internal day to day fray. We don't attend staff meetings or get sucked into the problems of the day. We avoid the internal power plays. By not being on site each day, The Exploration Group can be present; clear- headed and far-seeing.

  3. We source internal ideas. At times we get great insight from over looked reports, studies, and staff. These staff member are usually on the fringe of a project, and because they are inside are not heard. We amplify their voices.

  4. We source external ideas. Managed organizations tend to become inward focused. In the words of management guru Peter Drucker, in his book "The Effective Executive," "Managers have a hard time seeing outside their organization." An Expedition looks outside the organization, and connects the workings inside to those resources outside.

What kind of space can we create for your organization?

Before you answer, consider these spaces. The laboratory of Thomas A. Edison in West Orange, New Jersey. The Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In each of these spaces an environment was designed that birthed, developed, and nurtured new ideas, processes, and products. And today, because of spaces like these, I sit at a well-lit desk and I type on a computer.

Creating a space made it happen.