Yes! And® Blog

127 Use Clues to Make Change Happen…

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 127  Need to influence transformation? Look for what’s working… “If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell.” Mohammed Al Fayed, ex -Fulham FC Owner on erecting the Michael Jackson statue   What would you do next in this situation? You are facilitating a meeting with a team that is transforming how it provides its services. You ask the people to describe their preferred future when everything is working well. What will be happening? What will people be doing, saying, thinking, feeling etc? How will the processes and systems be operating? They do it. What happens next? Typically, the next step in organisations is to describe what is stopping the team from achieving the preferred future. They list what is wrong, things they have been discussing for ever that never seem to get resolved. People become dispirited and defensive as they sense people are blaming them or their department for what is wrong. The positive energy drains away and resistance to change develops. Friction occurs, or worse, apathy. Actions aren’t followed up. Is this recognisable to you?  It’s noticeable in transformation programmes, especially when the initial euphoria has ebbed away. An alternative approach for creative leaders is to identify what is working. Where can we see clues that the preferred future is happening already, examples of good practice? The purpose is to encourage people to sense that much is going well and they can build on it. In the book, “Solutions Focus”, by Mark McKergow and Paul Z Jackson they refer to these clues / examples as “Counters”.... read more

126 Make Your Proposition Clearer…

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 126 How can you sell your proposition if people don’t understand it…? “ Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees”  Proverb Need to sell an idea? Define your proposition? This month, the British public has been in uproar over a government plan to sell off the forests in England. At its heart, there were some good ideas in this proposal that people didn’t understand. Often, a good idea fails because people do not understand it properly, as the idea owner does not explain it effectively, e.g. they do not clarify the benefits or they have not considered all the risks. So One way to overcome this issue is to develop a proposition statement. How do you do this? Here is a structured approach that you should find useful. 1. Develop an Initial Proposition Statement (IPS) for your idea. Use “Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How?” questions to build it. As a rule of thumb, your IPS should include the following points: The problem the proposition solves Whom it will impact / who wants or needs it A description of the solution, explaining how it solves the problem (benefits) and how much of the problem it solves How it differs from competing products As an example, let’s take a real situation from the payments’ business (I will steer clear of the trees!) in which I have much experience. This idea arose a few years ago and has now been implemented, however, as I do not know the original proposition statement, I have created one: “Acquirers of card transactions currently earn no revenue from... read more

125 Facilitate Meetings More Effectively…

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 125 How can you facilitate more effectively as an organisational leader…… “Like baby, baby, baby oh, I thought you’d always be mine”  Lyrics , Justin Bieber How do you facilitate as an internal creative leader in the organisation? Last night I read an article, which stated that coaching is a lot easier for external coaches than internal leaders. As I tramped through the woods this morning, I thought about this, as people in organisations regularly say to me that it is a lot easier for an external facilitator to facilitate a group. Overall, I agree and as I walked, I thought about the issues that people in organisations have and how they might overcome them. Here are my thoughts in a question and answer format: 1. How to facilitate when you want or need to contribute? Response: Understand the different roles in a meeting. The facilitator manages the process, the attendees deal with the content.   One way to overcome the issue is to make clear you are stepping in to an attendee role by creating a facilitator space and a contributor space in the room. Tell the others this and physically move between spaces when you need to contribute. (Michael Grinder, a communications expert, calls this “decontamination”). A second way is to agree with a colleague that they will facilitate parts of the meeting where you must contribute; a good way to ease others in to facilitating. 2. How to find time to prepare? Response: Share out different sessions in a meeting amongst your team and have people design and facilitate them. This involves... read more

122 Innovate In The Day Job…

YES! AND… CREATIVE GORILLA # 122 Product and process is not the only area of innovation to focus on…  “The question is not “How do we innovate on top of the day job?” It is, “How do we make innovation part of the day job?” John Brooker What qualities do you need to cultivate to become a creative leader?  What is your least favourite innovation?  Early one morning last week, I was walking round the lovely village of Trendelburg in Germany. I was preparing myself for a workshop when the peace was shattered by that worst of innovations; the petrol driven leaf blower / collector. Not one, but four of the pesky things, plus a lorry based vacuum cleaner disrupted my tranquillity. I understand why people use them (if they pick the leaves up afterwards), but the noise they inflict on others is outrageous. Can no one make a silent engine for these monsters? Having mentally ranted, I began to think about the blower as an example of a product innovation, with a touch of process innovation; having replaced the process of raking and brushing with the faster process of annoying other people! Much of what I read about innovation refers to product or product manufacturing processes and Research and Development. This is a shame because it is somewhat limiting, tending as it does, to lead to a view that innovation is for the “product people”, and cutting others out of the innovation loop. Here are a few areas of innovation other than product, which I have identified in the payments’ business. What else might you add? Non product... read more

121 Create Creative Climate…

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 121 Can creative climate apply to a country too? “As bad as we think they are, these will become the good old days for our children.”                               Gladys Knight in the introduction to the song,  “The Way We Were / Try to Remember.” Does the creative climate in your country need to improve? I was having breakfast in a hotel in Dublin when the Gladys Knight song referenced above started to play. The song was released in 1975 but the spoken introduction (click here to watch if you are a soul music fan like me) could have been written today. So how is that relevant to creative leaders? I was having breakfast in a hotel in Dublin when the Gladys Knight song referenced above started to play. The song was released in 1975 but the spoken introduction (click here to watch if you are a soul music fan like me) could have been written today. So how is that relevant to creative leaders? I had been preparing slides on creative climate the night before. Climate can be viewed as those factors that help an organisation to create and innovate. Dr. Goran Ekvall in his influential research on innovative and less innovative companies, identified 9 factors that built the creative climate and differentiated the companies. Dr. Teresa Amabile built on Ekvall’s research, adding positive and negative environmental factors such as the availability of sufficient resources, e.g. information, funds, materials, and facilities. Both have produced instruments to assess creative climates, available now as... read more

119 Capture Innovation and Other Learning…

Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 119 Record key lessons and ideas about your innovation and other projects as soon as possible… “If life keeps asking you the same questions….You are NOT learning the lessons…” Leif Ericsson Leo Veness (American Artist ) How might you capture lessons from innovation and other projects? A couple of weeks prior to my recent holiday, I returned with a colleague from running an innovation capability programme with three companies in Ireland. Having woken at ridiculous o’clock to catch the first flight and drunk a large slug of expensive caffeine in Dublin airport, we were mildly hyperactive as we arrived back in Birmingham. Having run four days of workshops we had a lot to talk about and chatted animatedly as we drove out of the car park. Two minutes into our discussion I noticed there were some real nuggets of information arising. My first thought was to write them down but I found it easier to use the voice recording facility on my iPhone. Switching it on, I captured 34 minutes of discussion with some great material. Listening to the recording today, I recalled that we had identified lessons learned, generated ideas to improve the programme for the future companies and created a great business idea. As well though, we gained a number of lessons about capturing ideas, which you may find useful as a creative leader. So These lessons are: It is important to capture the learning from innovation and other projects to improve the next. This is common sense but is not necessarily common. Can you think of projects where there was no... read more

118 Facilitate People to Innovate

The Creative Gorilla #118 How to facilitate people to innovate… “The rules are simple, hit him, don’t let him hit you.” Jackie Chan in “The Karate Kid” How might you facilitate innovation? I drove to Dublin in Ireland with a colleague to start a new Innovation Programme. After a long drive and with the prospect of a full day ahead we retired to our rooms at 8.30 pm, my head hit the pillow at 10 pm and I was asleep. Three hours later I was awoken by a loud crash, like someone throwing a collapsible table out of the window. I dozed off, only to be startled by another loud crash. After the fourth time I realised it happened whenever a vehicle exited the hotel car park over a metal speed bump. This being a tourist hotel in Dublin I laid awake for most of the night as taxis came and went, drifting off around 4 a.m. On the bright side I was able to relate this story to the group next day, using it to define business innovation as: Find someone with a problem (crash!) Identify if they are wiling to pay for a solution (I would happily pay!) Develop a solution Market it Earn revenue True, this is highly simplistic, but it can be useful to cut through complexity to the basic concept. So Whilst the concept of innovation is simple, implementing it is a little more difficult, so, here are eight ways to facilitate innovation in an organisation, based on my experience and reading: Know what you want Understand why you want to innovate and describe... read more

116 Maintain Mental Resolve…

The Creative Gorilla #116 How might a creative leader retain mental resolve when under pressure…? “Robert Green is confident he has the mental resolve to bounce back from the World Cup howler that helped the United States draw 1-1 with England.” BBC Sport website 13 June 2010   Do you have mental resolve? Driving home the day after England’s World Cup match with the USA, I listened to BBC radio. They were interviewing a sport psychologist who explained how people react after making the kind of mistake that England’s goalkeeper Robert Green made in the match, fumbling the ball and enabling the USA to equalise. He went on to discuss how sport psychologists toughen athletes’ mental resolve in four areas: Concentration is the mental quality to focus on the task in hand. There are two areas of focus: 1. The Broad – Narrow continuum; the athlete focuses on a large or small number of stimuli. 2. Internal – External continuum; the athlete focuses on internal stimuli (feelings) or external stimuli (ball). Common distractions are anxiety, stress and fatigue Confidence is driven by the belief an athlete can achieve their goals, leading to more enthusiasm, perseverance and positive thinking Control of emotions (e.g. anger and anxiety) is essential for successful performance in adversity. Lack of control causes mental and physical affects which reduce performance Full Commitment to the goals they wish to achieve (or save in Robert Green’s case), is essential So Listening to the discussion, it struck me how we might relate the 4Cs to creative leadership. After all, it can be tough challenging the status quo. Here are... read more

115 Avoid Stale Thinking

The Creative Gorilla #115 Continually using the same approach is very efficient, but it can lead to stale thinking …  “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got …” JB (after Anthony Robbins, motivation guru) Need a new approach to problem solving? Last week, I gave a talk to a company in Bristol. Having had my diary changed at the last minute, I decided to stay the night in a hotel and so immediately followed my usual approach for booking a hotel; go online and book through my regular hotel chain. Alas, all their hotels in Bristol were booked as were all the other chain hotels. So I Googled “Bed and Breakfast Bristol” and instead of staying in a prefabricated block just off the motorway, I stayed at a lovely Edwardian hotel overlooking the Downs. In the morning I went for a long walk across said Downs, found a fabulous view of the Avon Gorge and had time to rehearse my talk in my mind. Having been forced to take a fresh approach to booking my hotel I was delighted it had paid off so well. It also gave me an opening story for my talk, which challenged the use of only one approach to tackling problems. Like many companies, the one I talked to uses a structured approach to problem solving, in this case, “Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control”. Essentially, this type of approach senses a problem, identifies the symptoms, finds the root cause and looks for solutions. Companies have been using these types of problem centred approaches for many... read more