Monday, November 11, 2013

The Top Three Reasons To Have Someone In The Autistic Spectrum On Your Innovation Team



Consider getting team members in the Autism spectrum on your collaborative team.  They can add value others cannot.

Don’t judge the person, judge the work.   

That’s the word from Temple Grandin, expert on Autism and author of The Autistic Brain.  My wife (a pre-school Montessori teacher) and I had the pleasure of hearing a lecture led by Grandin as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival this past weekend.  She had some things to say about creativity and the way some of those in the Autistic Spectrum look at the world. 

Her advocacy made me think those with autistic brains can play very well in the Innovation Space.  

It seems those in the autistic spectrum are perfect as players in an on line collaborative environment focused on innovation.

Autistics In The Workplace Are Innovative
They walk among us.  As you can see in the video, Grandin is convinced those with autism are already working with us.  Frequently our leaders are somewhere in the spectrum.  The genetics that produce those with autism also produce those who are creative.  Many are in the technical fields.  She believes large numbers are filling up the cubes in Silicon Valley.


Grandin believes those in the Autistic Spectrum can add value to the workplace.  She pointed out that many of those in the spectrum see the world visually.  They tend to look at the details.  They frequently have skill sets that others do not.

Workers in the autistic spectrum bring these important strengths:
1.  They are detail oriented.  In fact they judge things on the facts and only on the facts.
2.  They are typically better at visualization than others.
3.   They routinely assign items into categories enabling them to be able to identify synergies.

Excellent Collaborators
And if they’re going to be on the team, the collaborative on line technology portals focused on innovation may be a great medium to interact.  Temple Grandin points out some of the challenges those in the spectrum experience in social situations.

They frequently struggle with social environments.  They may have trouble looking others in the eye or clearly hearing hard consonants.  Grandin and others like her can find themselves struggling to verbalize and may produce disorganized speech patterns.  It takes longer for those with autistic brains to shift from one subject to another.  

But what they’re really good at, being able to focus on details, looking at objects with a critical visual eye, or considering the spatial attributes of a new product… has real value in the collaborative process.  They can spot important issues others might miss.  Their critical way of thinking; their bottom up approach spawns ideas from the available facts and from the facts only.

Those in the autistic spectrum also organize their thoughts by thinking of the items they encounter in the world by placing things in categories.  This tends to enable them to notice synergies and the cross-arena usefulness of ideas.  

Conclusion
Those in the autistic spectrum have real talents to add value to the workplace.  Temple Grandin for instance has written a number of books and her designs for livestock stockyards set the standard in the field.  She and others like her in the autistic spectrum see the world in a different way:   paying attention to details, assigning objects into categories, seeing synergies where others might miss them.  Their strengths lend themselves perfectly as members of on line collaborative innovation communities.  In fact famous leaders in science and technology are likely in the spectrum.  Think about who is on your team and who should be on your team.

Don’t judge the person, judge the work.


Ron Shulkin blogs, researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  You can learn more about Ron at his biography web site:www.shulkin.net. You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn.   

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem. CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation. CogniStreamer has been rated as a “Leader” in Forrester’s recent Wave report on Innovation Management Tools. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60 . Ron also manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (JoinHere).

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