Yes! And® Blog

76b Learn a Lesson in Communication…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 76B When you make a mistake, it is useful to draw some lessons from it… “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” George Bernard Shaw, Playwright Have you ever had a communication perceived not as you intended? In the original Gorilla 76 on “Lever Your Life” I made the remark: “I could have attributed it [my lack of motivation] to the plumbers who installed our new bathroom, tradesmen who (despite being the bathroom supplier’s referral) would have made “King of the Cowboys”, Roy Rogers, a Native American squaw in comparison. They certainly made me miserable with their lies and bodges.” I received a few critical responses from readers who interpreted the remark as a slur on Native Americans and I assume that more people may have been offended, but chose not to write. I have responded personally to those who wrote and I am writing this special edition for other readers to make my apologies, explain what I meant and to draw some lessons in communication from it. First, if you did interpret it as a slur, I sincerely apologise. I intended none but did make some errors in communicating, in particular as the Gorilla is read in many different countries. To explain, I will use three questions that were sent to me by readers: “Did you intend your readers to assume that cowboys are good and Native American squaws are not?” No, I did not intend this. The term cowboy in Britain is used colloquially for bad tradesmen. I was seeking to illustrate that my plumbers so “out cowboyed”... read more

76 Use Levers to Transform…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 76 You can influence your life by applying leverage in a way that works for you… “Mind is the great lever of all things.”  Daniel Webster – American statesman Could you lever some basic strategies to make you more effective? I’m usually a fairly positive person but towards the end of last year, I found myself a bit rudderless and less than motivated. Does that ever happen to you? I could have attributed it [my lack of motivation] to the plumbers (a referral from our bathroom suppliers) who installed our new bathroom, tradesmen so bad we in Britain call them cowboys. They came in, spanners blazing and certainly made me miserable with their lies and bodges. On reflection though, I realised that I was not paying attention to the levers that influence my life, those key factors that give me direction, motivation and a sunnier outlook.  “Levers” are a metaphor for those key things in our life that we influence to achieve a certain outcome. These levers will be different for everyone but in my case they are: The amount of exercise I do The time I spend meditating Mapping what I have to do regularly The amount I snack You may wonder why I include the last one. Surely, if I snack more, that’s a bad thing? True. Essentially, if I increase the first three and reduce the last, I feel better and act more effectively; you don’t have to move levers the same way! I moved mine appropriately and feel more motivated and positive as a result. So You can apply this... read more

75 Evaluate ideas and options

 YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 75 The power of choosing in a workshop is not the count but the discussion of why you chose in that way …  “Free and fair discussion will ever be found the firmest friend to truth. “ Unknown   How can you make evaluation more powerful? I ran a flexible thinking workshop recently and once again, people said “the power of discussion” was a key learning point. Why should discussion be so powerful? Let’s explore… In the course I demonstrate the use of the Options Matrix technique, one used quite commonly by groups to choose between various options. Above I show a simplified matrix based on the challenge of “How to get more funds for the project?” The scoring is based on how well the idea matches up to the criteria, in this case: Excellent =  4;  Very  good =  3;  Good =  2;  Poor =  1 Typically the process is: Those involved in choosing give a rating for each option or idea against each criterion, e.g. Mary rates idea “C” as Poor against Criteria 1, Zane rates it Excellent and Joe rates it as Excellent too The rating is averaged and a score given i.e. 1 + 4 + 4 = 9 / 3 people = 3 The average rating against each criterion is added to give a total The option with the highest total score is chosen (Option “B” in our example) and we have an objective result Or do we? Actually what we have is the objective result of a subjective process, or what I call “Subjective objectivity”. So What we... read more

74 Make New Technology a Success

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla #74 If you want technology to be successful, you have to ensure it meets a few clear criteria…   “New technology turns adult and child roles on their head. If technology is easy to use now, we should say “it’s adult’s play” not “child’s play”. John Brooker ~ Adult player What makes a new technology product successful? I’m writing this in my hotel room in Morocco, having just finished my first ever video call to my family. This excited me so much that I was jumping up and down and clapping with excitement when we connected. We used Windows Live Messenger to make the call, which my daughter showed me how to use at the weekend. Once I had connected to the hotel’s internet (two minutes), it took me just a minute to set up the video call, with a bit of on line coaching from my children. This technology has given me the opportunity to see and talk to my family, easily, simply and for free (hotel internet prices aside!). They can show me their homework, we can play games and generally have fun, so much so that we spent forty minutes on the call. On the telephone, it is usually a couple of minutes’ chat and then they get bored. It also costs me £1.25 a minute. Some of you with a key driver (e.g. speaking to relatives overseas) may have been making video calls from your PC for quite a while, many more of you will use video conferencing at work so what is the big deal about my experience? Well, I think... read more

73 Map Your Thoughts

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 73 Mapping your thoughts is a good place to start when your creativity falters…                    “I have an existential map. It has ‘You are here’ written all over it.” Steven Wright, US Comedian Do you need to unblock your creative pipes? People sometimes ask me if I ever run out of ideas for Gorilla articles. Last week I thought it had happened. We were on holiday in Venice, a perfect place I thought, to get creative ideas for a Gorilla article. I had five “triggers”, the first being the picture on my mobile phone changing from the Houses of Parliament to the Leaning Tower of Pisa as I switched it on in Venice airport (what a lovely idea!). Normally, I sense a trigger and mentally fit it to a suitable concept for an article, but I couldn’t fit any of these five. I had a creative block and needed a creative plumber to free it (and before you say it, help me tap in to my creativity). Then my wife bought me a lovely notebook (Moleskine brand) which I promptly used to map out all the triggers in the form of a Mind Map. (If you are unfamiliar with mapping, here is a link to give you some background) Mapping my thoughts helped me find a connection, but I’ll write about that in the next article, because I realised as I mapped that my mental block was a trigger and mapping is the article concept! When I got home I did a search on all of... read more

72 Make Communication Simple

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 72 Having creative ideas is only useful if you can communicate them well… “At some later date, in perhaps some less guarded moment, we will really get to know what the master of Old Trafford thinks of promotion to one of the key jobs in world football by friendship with the owner, by bartering the post of director of football, the most redundant job in any corner of the game where a degree of success has been achieved under a strong manager, for the top position so recently occupied by a man whose record of achievement, relative to his successor was so far in to another league it was almost beyond measurement.” Sports Columnist – UK Newspaper Do you have creative ideas but struggle to communicate them? Did you read the quotation above? Did you understand it? Did you give up after a few lines? Recently, I developed a course on “Powerful Communications” which is a key part of innovation. As part of the course, I ran a five minute exercise on the Solutions Focus principle “Language – Simply Said” or, “Use $5 words not $5000 words” (In the course I swapped pounds for dollars to make it simpler still for my British audience). As seems to happen regularly (Jung called it “synchronicity” or the coincidence of events that seem related, but are not obviously caused one by the other), just as I was looking for an example of difficult language, I opened the newspaper whilst on the train to find the example I quote above. I read that passage at least five times... read more

71 Save Intrapreneurs

Creative Gorilla #71   Rather than quashing ideas it would be great if organisations could have an intrapreneur fund that encourages employees to develop their ideas into fledgling companies…                   “It is awfully hard to be b-b-brave,” said Piglet, “when you are only a Very Small Animal.” A. A. Milne in Winnie the Pooh Is your organisation losing great ideas because they don’t fit your business model? I was watching a rerun of the TV programme Dragon’s Den recently. This is a programme in which budding entrepreneurs and inventors get to pitch their idea or invention to a group of successful entrepreneurs who might invest in it. The programme I watched featured a review of how some of the budding business ideas were flourishing. One that caught my attention was a young 19 year old who had invented a new type of portfolio case for artists. One entrepreneur liked the idea so much he effectively bought the company and installed the young man in the office next to his, to develop the idea. This set me thinking about those employee ideas that organisations reject because they don’t fit the strategy or business model or because managers don’t have the vision or the time to address it. I know that when I worked in organisations I met a few very frustrated people who had a great idea but couldn’t get attention for it. Most left. So pondering a little more, the concept struck me of an Intrapreneur Fund. So The concept is this: A senior manager (with entrepreneurial instincts we shall call the Intrapreneur Development Director or IDD) is responsible... read more

69 Find Concepts for Creativity…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla #69  By altering the concept, you can generate new ideas…  ”There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” Ansel Adams, photographer Have you some concepts you might challenge? If you have ever travelled by train, you will likely empathise with my thoughts as I sat on a Metropolitan Line tube train in to London, one which appeared to be auditioning for a bit part in the World’s Slowest Railway Journeys and watched as a fast train sped past mine. “I’ve paid only a few pence less than them,” thinks Grumpy Old Man, “they leave from a more distant station and get in earlier…that’s not fair!” That led me to think about how Transport for London charge for Tube travel, which is based on the concepts of distance and the time of day you travel. I pondered over alternatives to these concepts, e.g. cost per “kilometre minute” but it was all a bit fuzzy and the slow motion of the train led me to doze. Cut to a Flexible Thinking course I was running recently, a few weeks after my train journey. The group used “Super Heroes”, where people adopt the viewpoint of a Superhero to generate ideas, as a technique.  Andrey, a participant, decided to use “Dash”, the speedy little kid from “The Incredibles” as his Super Hero. His idea was that you could use an electronic chip to measure the speed Dash travelled between two points. That was the “Eureka” moment for me and my fuzzy pricing concept. With 3 million London commuters using Oyster Cards (these use contactless chips,... read more

68 Encourage creative people…

Creative Gorilla #68 If you are careful about the rules and policies you set, you can help stimulate innovation… “As innovation is hard to micromanage, the best policy is to attract smart people and get out of their way!” Edward L. Glaeser ~ Glimp Professor of Economics and director of the Rappaport Institute at Harvard University   Are you getting out of the way of your smart people? Taking a paddle on the Internet recently (at my line speeds it’s hardly surfing), I found an article in the Boston Globe by Edward Glaeser, a Profeesor of Economics at Harvard University. In the article he outlines how Massachusetts might reinvent itself again and how the state government could help or hinder this. His driving idea is that the government should have policies to attract smart and talented people and then get out of their way so that they can innovate. Unfortunately recent government policy has had the reverse effect. They introduced onerous business regulations that deterred organisations from setting up in the state and heavy taxation for high earners, which drove them away. It reminded me of a workshop that I ran which we designed to encourage individuals to be more innovative. It was a young, enthusiastic and talented group and a significant number cited company rules and bureaucracy as a deterrent to their innovation, this in a company that positively encourages innovation! So If you work in an organisation, it probably invests a great deal to attract, keep and develop talented staff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cost much to set up the needless rules and policies that then drive them... read more