133 Encourage Action

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 133 How do you  innovate and maintain the operation? Use Sprint Actions “Great acts are made up of small deeds” – Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher Are your people struggling to effect change and run the operation? Some of you may be the type of person to pull out a toolkit at first sight of a drawer knob dropping off or other domestic issue. To my discredit, I can always find something more interesting to do and many jobs build up before begrudgingly, I complete them. However, when our bathroom door hinge recently developed a very high-pitched squeal that grated on the teeth, I lubricated it quickly with WD40. It was easy and the WD40 was handily under the kitchen sink (that had a knob on the door). I wish I could write an article about a tool that cures management issues as easily as WD40 cures many household issues, however, the squeaky door hinge provides a good analogy. When a management team has a “to do” list of more pressing things to do, it takes a very squeaky issue to replace an action on the list. However, I am sure most of you have sat in meetings and created a large list of additional actions to add to the already full “to do” list. Many people are enthusiastic and accept the actions; others are pressured to take them. It is no surprise though that people often fail to take actions because the issue is not squeaky enough. This is especially the case when new actions are about creating change and the existing actions are dealing with...

Make Innovating Simpler [Yes And Blog 150]

“As innovation becomes a management discipline there is a danger that it is seen as the end, rather than the means” John Brooker  Want to make innovating simple again? I was out riding my bike recently when I found I could not use any gear above number eight, so instead of twenty-four gears through three front cogs, I had just eight gears on one. I couldn’t fix it myself and didn’t have time to take it to the repairers so carried on using it. I am no Bradley Wiggins (Olympic cycling gold medallist and winner of  the Tour de France) and after a couple of rides, I noticed that the lack of gears was not causing me much of a problem, apart from going down steep hills where I could not pick up as much speed. After noticing that, I compared the enforced simplicity of my gearing with how complex innovation seems to have become. I appreciate there are some organisations that need more sophisticated approaches, just like the Tour de France needs more complex bikes. I am also sure most organisations could cope with a simpler approach. In fact, many could cope with just three “innovation gears” if they had the nerve to get on the “bike”. So In the spirit of keeping it simple, here is my three gear approach to help your people innovate. The three gears are, Climate, Model and Tools. Create and nurture the right climate to encourage collaboration When you wish people to be more collaborative and creative you need to create a macro-climate within the organisation and a micro-climate within meetings. Here...

Seven Metaphors to Help Creative Leaders Innovate [Yes! And Blog 166]

“Encourage people to innovate, but employ a metaphorical guillotine to restrict discussion on innovation.” John Brooker Here are seven metaphors to help you as a Creative Leader, drive innovative behaviour. 1. Lift the veil – why does your organisation want to innovate? If your top management team plans to launch an innovation initiative, have them answer three questions first: a. What value will it bring in business terms? Will it drive more revenue, save costs, differentiate you from the competition, or improve staff retention? How will you quantify this in business terms? b. What will be the signs of progress? Recently, I reviewed for a government organisation a list of proposed measures to show innovation progress. Primarily they were input measures, (e.g. the number of people trained, the number of innovation champions appointed). Input measures often show you have built an innovation bureaucracy, not that you are more innovative. Ensure there are output measures too, e.g. the number of propositions implemented and achievement of business value. c. What will tell you this initiative is sustainable? You can create a one-off innovative proposition fairly easily. How do you recognise your organisation is sustainably innovative? Clues might be that, you identify opportunities regularly, create propositions frequently, kill poor propositions quickly and explain why you have done this. To do this you need a creative yet structured model for innovating at the front end. Creative Leader Tip: Ensure your leadership team thinks through these questions before you start an initiative. 2. Focus the lens – what type of innovation does your organisation require? Recently, a colleague and I visited a potential client...

How Creative Leaders Can Encourage Innovation [Yes! And Blog 123]

“It occurred to me by intuition and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.” Albert Einstein Want to encourage more innovation?    There are regular  discussions on Linked In forums and elsewhere about innovation and what it is. Is it a lot of small steps over time that transforms a company (as heard at a dinner recently) or is it a paradigm change that shakes up an industry (as discussed in a telephone call yesterday)? I had racked my brains for a while to find a simple way to describe my thinking and this week, inspiration struck. For some reason, my computer started playing music tracks at random (I suspect childish fingers at work). Suddenly, I had the soprano of La Bohème fading in to James Morrison, followed by a snatch of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, leading in to a (surprisingly catchy) rap song my son had downloaded.  The thing was, it worked; they segued in to each other with a few rough edges. The inspiration was that if we equate music to innovation, there is no need to differentiate. Whether it is a thirty second advertising jingle, the theme tune to a TV series, a three minute pop song or Beethoven’s 9th, it is all music. So Let’s play with the metaphor of music here. As creative leaders, let’s not waste time arguing whether this is music or that is music. Good jingles can launch products in to popular culture; the writers of the Neighbours’ (Australian soap opera) theme tune have made a fortune and Beethoven has inspired millions. There...

Use Scaling As a Measurement Tool [Yes! And Blog 41]

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving; we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it; but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes JR. American Supreme Court Judge   Scaling is a simple but powerful tool that uses subtle questions to create a positive state and movement in people. The other day, I ran a two hour workshop on Solutions Focused Fund Raising for a group of school fund raisers at their conference in Manchester. On the train journey I wrote down my intention for the day. “To make the workshop as good as I can and something unexpected will arise from it.” Well, it certainly did! During the workshop, I introduced the group to the Solutions Focus method. This is an approach to change that concentrates on what is going well, clarifying the facts of a problem and then seeking solutions rather than analysing the causes of the problem. It is very motivating. The workshop ran really well, the whole room of people were in flow and the energy was amazing. As a final exercise I ran “Scaling”, asking, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how confident are you that you could reach your perfect fundraising future?” Scaling is a great technique that you can use anywhere in facilitation and coaching because it is very flexible and can produce powerful results. One way to run it is to have a group of people stand on a scale marked out on the floor and...
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