- by Lynn Hinderaker, Partner, NEWbraska Network
We know instinctively that the components of the physical world can be put together in an infinite number of ways. As we go through this process subconsciously, we experience coincidences and chance encounters. The universe bends in our direction. All this gives us a sense that the universe itself is well disposed toward us. However, we don't understand how it all fits together to create something special, a psychic sense of OK-ness.
This is a mysterious inner phenomenon; we have not developed our reasoning capacity beyond the dividing up of reality into categories, forming distinctions, focusing on differences, following the ‘laws’ of cause and effect and examining events that are concrete and belong to the past. Engineers, accountants and attorneys excel in this deductive reasoning.
We emphasize methods of division and categorization so completely that we lose sight of FUSIONARY organizations and associative patterns, even though we use them constantly in our most intimate thought processes.
Lesson 1: What is important in these times is not the individual things themselves – the product, the price, the sales channel – but the relationship between them - the how and why of the connections between them.
Why is this observation so important now? Because the traditional, reliable, sustainable engines of growth for American business have run out of steam - squeezing out ever-smaller returns from the same core business. Companies and their executives are working harder and harder to generate smaller and smaller benefits. (This is why McKinsey recently distributed an essay about the importance of creating multiple, new businesses that are separate from the core, but leverage the market focus, technology and talent that suffused the original business.)
Companies like this often reach outside to hire generalists with a range of skills that lets them combine disparate ideas, techniques, processes and cultures. These employees, consultants or contract workers are boundary spanners. They have a broad array of skills, techniques, ideas and relationships. They are eclectic and easily bored.
Most important, they are visionary personalities, fascinated with the future and with trends that may have strategic import. They have already learned to connect the rapidly-changing dots. They have a vision that has problems - problems that cannot be solved without a fusion of technologies, features, people, systems, organizations, media and more.
These boundary spanners are 'fusionaries.' They are the key to Nebraska's business future. They are the ones who will push the state up in the 'innovation' rankings from the current #46, a shameful designation and a put-off to the very young professionals the state craves in order to grow.
Lesson 2: Fusionary companies are often focused on creating new growth and new value by addressing the hassles and issues that surround the product rather than by improving the product itself. Instead of just ‘delivering a product’ like a traditional vendor, fuse the product to several related services that would improve the economics of your customers. (But it’s a lot more work.)
Functionality and feelings
The blend of two questions - "How must our product perform to out-sell the competition?" and "What emotions do we want to evoke when prospects are considering using our system for the first time?" fuse functionality with feelings to create an ever-renewing brand experience. It's intuitive and logical in one swoop. A fusion of arms-length rationality and close-to-the-heart storytelling.
Lesson 3: Everyone knows that fusing two opposites is hard, but so generative, it's worth giving it a try. The key is to 'possibilitize.' For instance, there is a new type of customer in America - the 'UrbaNatural' customer. UrbaNatural workers and buyers fuse opposites in their careers and lifestyle. They are eclectic. They cobble together opposing ideas in spirituality, politics and interior design.They are drawn to buildings with exteriors that use synthetic materials like glass or brushed aluminum positioned right next to wood. They prefer office furnishings that use industrial metal for legs and primal wood for a desktop. City meets country. Old meets new. Primal authenticity meets postmodern slick.
According to neuroaesthetic scientists, visual novelty stimulates the human retina and the visual cortex. The brain then releases a feel-good hormone called dopamine. The burst of positive hormonal microenergy that we experience when we glance at a building that fuses two types of material (synthetic and organic) is a well measured, scientific reality. Perception and emotion are fused in architecture; this realization could change neighborhood design, architecture and construction. The fusion of contrasing materials could become the catalyst for talent attraction - so important to Nebraska's future!
Fusion of contrasting imagery engages and even inspires us. But that's just the beginning.
Idea fusion, people fusion
Fusion has a social component that offers potential to our state and the entire nation which is struggling with polarization. Instead of attacking each other, people from diverse backgrounds and aspirations should gather together and chat casually-but-seriously about a variety of topics. In a psychologically safe and stimulating environment, they could explore ideas they wouldn’t normally venture into. These conversations could become contentious and engaging, placing participants at the on the edge of positive change in several contexts: business, neighborhood, social issues, trends, education, even politics. In this fusionary environment, Nebraskans would set aside their specialized, analytical perspective and collaborate on free-form interpretation of vague or inconsistent data.
This fusion of ideas may require a lubricant - perhaps controversial, inside data which opens up some people and leaves others free to ramble. If we can foster creative interaction within diverse groups of people, ambiguity and uncertainty will become resources to be exploited, not problems to be analyzed away. With this shift in perspective, breakthroughs can occur.
For instance, so-called 'opposites' will realize that they can't be what they are capable of becoming without embracing an oppositional element into their mindset or operation. This is a startling realization! Organizational diversity, racial equity and the confusing role of women in management would all benefit from a commitment to the fusion ideal.
Intellectual fusion, organizational fusion, technological fusion, web fusion, content fusion, product fusion, architectural fusion (see above) and cultural fusion. In business, fusion takes us beyond an informal alliance to total interdependence. At the psychological level, fusion takes us beyond a rigid self image to a fluid, ever-renewing, always confident essence. Our Source.
This is how Nebraska will change its DNA. Under the conceptual leadership of fusion, businesses, civic officials and legislators will finally embrace the innovation that will emerge naturally from the fusion of contrasting perspectives, problems, aspirations, backgrounds and environments.
Yes, fusion provides the sturdy platform upon which we can walk into the future.
It's about time.
Author Lynn Hinderaker has transformed five industries. He is a growth consultant, talk show host, creative developer, publisher of NEW Momentum magazine, seminar leader and an expert in talent attraction and downtown revitalization. His partner, Lee Myers, is an expert in transportation, community-building, education and group facilitation using the DataBurst SenseMaking research technology. Their firm, NEWbraska Network, is an innovation ecosystem that builds companies and communities. Their operation offices at Modus - a community of entrepreneurs - in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.
Seminars and keynotes:
The Four Prerequisites to Attracting and Retaining Young Workers in Nebraska
Innovate to Be Great
Dare to Be Epic
The Cutting Edge of Leadership
Rethink Your Strategy
Why Your Next Worker and Customer Must Be UrbaNatural
The Ascension of the Yellow Brains: Women and Entrepreneurs Are the Key
You May Be a Genius, But You Can't Make It On Your Own
Purpose, Plan and Presence: Three New-Era Neccessities
Earthquake! How to Foster Resilience
The Next Value Revolution
Vision, Fusion and Passion: The Three Sturdy Legs Supporting the Stool That Will Lift Your Team to a New Level
"A dynamo!" - Owner of commercial HVAC firm
"Lynn operates at the same level as Gallup." - Owner of architectural firm
"Lynn, it's evident that you are meeting a great need in our communities by inspiring innovation and progress." - former Senator and Blueprint Nebraska director