Jan 2022., Sawsan Khuri. ‘Take Your Shoes Off First’ is a term used by Julia Freeland in the book and podcast of the same name. The powerful idea is to identify our own beliefs and put them aside before trying to understand another person’s perspective. In her fifth podcast, Julia discusses this concept with Sawsan Khuri and how we use it in our innovation interventions.
Sawsan and Julia’s discussion was wide ranging as they put the world to rights and touched on innovation, education, families, accents and facilitation processes. It is almost impossible to summarise the whole podcast effectively, here is a taster of their discussion about innovation interventions.
At Collaborative Capacities, we use the term intervention, rather than event or workshop. In medical terms, an intervention is a treatment or a lifestyle change that helps alleviate symptoms. Similarly, in our innovation and facilitation work: the client needs help, and we intervene, often over more than one session. In the podcast, Julia and Sawsan explore innovation as a process of changing behaviour, whether for designing a product or entering a new market. Within change, it is essential to appreciate and acknowledge that each small change has its rewards. It is also necessary to recognise that the steps taken, whether large or small, do not have to follow a linear path if they collectively move in the intended positive direction.
Taking your shoes off first is an important first step in an innovation intervention. We need to put aside our own biases as well as allow ourselves to embark on this journey of change. This starts with the client even before they contact us. The client may have a preconceived notion of who we are and what we can provide. This may be hallmarked by visual appearance, prior research on our expertise, or how we present ourselves at meetings or networking events. Once the client approaches us, it is our job to listen carefully to their needs, identify their own ‘shoes’ and create the safe spaces for them to be able to ‘take their shoes off’.
This difference in mindset provides different perspectives, which are absolutely useful when developing something new in an innovation process. It allows you to be open to learning and to have these new learnings inform your thinking and actions. It encourages you to accept that there isn’t only one correct answer to (almost) anything in an innovation intervention, as there are usually multiple potentially correct answers and possible outcomes. Our role is to facilitate the intervention so that the best answer for the client emerges, and the client can see the way forward with greater clarity and understanding.
A few weeks later, Julia followed up with a LinkedIn post about amplifying new voices and featured her podcast with Sawsan on it, you can read it at this link.