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Tool KitBehaviorsSignaling

Visual cue: Peacock

Innovation Behavior #2: Signaling

Signaling is about telling others what you need to drive innovation in the right direction. We signal all the time using words, body language, environment, and props. Signaling allows us to tell people what we need, how we want them to be, and how we want them to react. It allows us to set clear expectations, such as whether we need expansive thinking and big ideas or reductive thinking to help refine our path.

The key to signaling is to be aware of what you’re communicating and how it will be perceived. Don’t kill your idea before you even share it with comments like, “This could be stupid.” Instead, pitch your idea and let your audience respond.

Put Signaling into Practice

When we approach someone with an idea, and ask “What do you think?,” you’re asking for judgment. Try reframing your question to signal the type of feedback you’re looking for:

  • What I need from you is…
  • This idea is still a draft, but I would love your help making it stronger.
  • I’m not sure where it’s going, but I’d like for you to help me build it out.

Use visuals or props to physically signal to others and clue them in on how you want them to be.

  • When someone in your meeting is shutting down ideas, show them a red card every time they use negative language. If they are shown the red card three times, they’re kicked out.
  • Someone going off-topic? Wave a pompom in the air. This will let everyone know you need to refocus.

At the start of a meeting, establish a clear agenda and explain what you’re hoping to achieve. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and reduce confusion.

Signaling is used with the following tools: