Yes! And® Blog

58 Communicate for a change …

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 58 When you communicate an important change message you must repeat it often to make it stick. “I expected…more.” Durza, character in Eragon Do you blame those who resist change? Do they resist deliberately or do they miss your message? Today I took the children to see the film Eragon, a tale of a young “dragon flyer”. I went with some trepidation, imagining it would be similar to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. These were films I watched without comprehending the plot (ok, I figured the ring had something to do with it), baffled by the characters (so whose army is this then?) and lip reading as I strained to hear their mumbled lines. With that in mind, Eragon was a pleasant surprise. The words were clear, they kept the plot simple and repeated the character names often enough so that even the older generation (i.e. me) could understand who was who. True, there was some dialogue to make you cringe towards the end (courtesy of the Dictionary of Clichéd Clichés) but it is a film aimed at children. Before Christmas I co-facilitated a workshop. The participants were a group of change managers involved in a serious piece of change management. They are experiencing strong resistance to their change efforts and so my colleague and I were asked to help them reflect on their efforts and provide guidance on good change management practice. We had them elicit their issues and it was no surprise that communication came up as one of them. Specifically there was a lack of a clear vision from senior... read more

57 Capture Stories…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 57 Taking time to capture stories during and after a project could help make explicit a lot of tacit data. “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it” Winston Churchill” What is the best story in your organisation? Being the season of the “greatest story ever told”, I found myself at the Christmas concert of the youth orchestra in which my daughter plays. My son and I sat right at the front with my daughter a few feet away in the “pit”, waiting for her group to perform. The music started and the band kicked in to a variety of classic songs from the likes of Lionel Ritchie and the Beatles. Despite not having heard many of them for over ten years, I found the lyrics popping in to my head and I began quietly singing along, until I saw the horrified look on my daughter’s face (seriously uncool to sing along Dad!). Reacting to her press of the metaphorical mute switch, I turned my head away and singing mutely, I pondered from where these lyrics had popped up? Perhaps they are stored in some obscure memory bank and the “vault” is opened by a combination of musical notes? After the concert I thought about tacit knowledge in organisations, all those valuable snippets of information, insights and understanding that are not written down and are often lost. What organisational equivalent of “musical notes” does it take to elicit these tacit nuggets and make them explicit? Do we all have to line up and sing a company song each morning, I... read more

56 Consider the Consequence

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 56 “A few minutes working out the consequences of your decisions can save resources “Results are what you expect. Consequences are what you get.” Unknown Do you consider the consequences of your actions? Imagine you work in the Leisure Department of your local authority. You are told to save cash. One idea you come up with is to leave the park gates unlocked at night, saving as a result £60,000 over two years in lower salary costs. Write down all the potential consequences of this action. Have you identified any? The local newspaper recently announced that our parks would remain open at night to save the cost of paying someone to open and close them. “That’s a great idea,” I said to my wife, “then they’ll pay a lot more to repair the vandalised equipment and clean the graffiti.” Well, I was wrong. It was not vandals and graffiti artists. It was fly tippers. The consequence of leaving the gates open was that people dumped van loads of rubbish in the parks. Was that one of your outcomes? So When I train people in my approach to Creative Solution Finding, I lead them through a stage of analysing where their ideas will meet assistance or resistance. It surprises me how many people find this unusual, as it is a logical way to identify where we might find support or meet obstacles. One technique to use is “Consequences”. We ask “What is one consequence of implementing this idea?”  We can next ask, “What else?” or we can go further and ask “What is one consequence... read more

55 Flex Your Style

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 55 Flexing your style can help you to relate better to others, influence them more and so help in your creative endeavours I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times. Everett M. Dirksen (1896 – 1969) US politician How easy is it for you to flex your style? Would your creative efforts improve if you flexed it more? Have you ever driven a left hand drive car? Or for those of you that drive on the wrong side of the road from us in Britain, (just teasing!) a right hand drive car? For those that have, you will probably realise that you have to flex your style. Driving in Spain recently, I realised that I had not even thought about the fact I was driving on the right, the change seemed totally natural. I had flexed automatically, even though it had been some months since I had last driven on the right. Some other analogies which may be more relevant for you could include eating a meal with chop sticks or knife and fork (I’m sitting in an oriental restaurant writing this), swimming alternate breast stroke and front crawl (just had a swim) or, like the Dutch aircrew nearby, switching between English and Dutch at bewildering speed. The driving analogy struck me as I was preparing for a section of a course on flexible communication whilst in Spain. The training related to work done by Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton (you can find out more by reading their book People styles... read more

54 Signal Your Ideas…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 54 “If you signal that you are trying to be creative it may make others more receptive to your ideas “You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell.”  Lyric ~ Frederick Knight Are your creative efforts faltering because people fail to recognise that you are being creative?    You are cycling along a wide path. In front of you, someone is mooching along in a day dream, walking a dog on an extending lead, so you slow right down and move two metres to the left to overtake them. Suddenly, the dog makes a dash to the left and your brakes squeal as you perform an emergency stop to avoid garroting it on its lead. “You should get a bell,” says the dog owner defensively. “I have,” you reply curtly. “Try using it then,” retorts the dog owner.  “Try keeping your dog under control,” you respond and pedal off, furiously. Of course that would never happen to you, would it, because if you had a bell on your bike, you would ring it? Well, I was that cyclist and I thought, “He’s two metres to the side; I don’t need to ring my bell.” That incident happened two weeks ago. Cycling round this morning, I made a point of ringing my bell whenever I approached a dog owner from behind, even if there were plenty of space to pass. I received many “thank yous” and pondered the different scenarios. These people were in a relaxed mode and instead of me creeping slowly past and startling them, I rang my bell, giving them time to... read more

53 Avoid Making False Assumptions

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 53 Using principles of creative thinking can help you to avoid simple mistakes and tackle challenges effectively… “The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting go of them.” John Seely Brown, Chief of Confusion  Could your mind set or your assumptions be leading you to arrive at the wrong problem definition? On a recent weekend away I and some other parents and Scout Leaders took 35 Cub Scouts on a camping trip. I learned a lot about the noise 33 boys and a couple of girls can make and a great deal about washing up, being awarded with a silver scourer for my efforts (“I want to thank my wife for this award…”). At the end of the camp, one of the fathers came over to us and explained that he had locked his car keys in the boot (trunk) of his car. As we were a hundred miles from home and stuck in the middle of a wood, this was not an ideal situation. “No worries,” I said, “we’ll just call the AA or RAC (our car break down organisations in the UK) and they’ll get your keys fairly quickly or take your car home.” There was silence. “I don’t have break down insurance,” he replied, “the car never breaks down.” With a bit of flexible thinking, we managed to get the AA to rescue him and three hours later, we left for home. On the way home later, I pondered on his words and thought to myself that if he had adhered to... read more

52 Match Style to Organisational Innovation

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 52 Could the predominant style in an organisation influence the type of innovation that it develops?   “Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics.” Coco Chanel Could the predominant style of innovation in your organisation influence the type of innovation it develops? This weekend, I was a co-tutor at an Open University (OU) MBA Alumni Masterclass weekend on People, Innovation and Change. We had a brilliant time (I love this job!), the group were great and all the speakers were first class. One speaker, James Fleck, (Dean & Professor of Innovation Dynamics at the OU Business School, UK) distinguished between three types of innovation (with thanks to Wikipedia): Incremental Innovation ~ making minor changes over time to sustain the growth of a company without making sweeping changes to product lines, services or markets in which competition currently exists (source: Boston Consulting Group) Radical Innovation ~ a new product or service that is based on a substantially superior technology than the dominant one used by products or services in the market and offers substantially superior benefits than existing products or services in the market (source: Chandy, Rajesh and Gerard J. Tellis (1998), “Organizing For Radical Product Innovation,” Journal of Marketing Research, 35 (November), pp 474-487) Disruptive Innovation ~ a technological innovation, product or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in the market e.g. the compact disk replacing the vinyl record (please click here for a good overview of disruptive innovation) Apart from wondering whether a Dyson cleaner is a form of “radical incrementalism” the Professor set me... read more

51 Inspiring Leadership

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 51 The key role of a creative leader is to inspire others. To inspire others we can express ourselves, alternatively our tacit behaviour may inspire more. “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation not intimidation” William Arthur Wood (An earthenware manufacturer)   Who has quietly inspired you recently?   You may have seen a story (click here if you haven’t) about Buster Martin, a man who celebrated his 100th birthday at work, having worked almost every day of his life since the age of ten. There’s an inspiration for others. Or you may have seen the deeply uninspiring leadership debate in the UK Government (Please click here to read it). These and recent events in my life led me to reflect on the whole issue of inspiration. Riding my bike around my favourite lake, letting my mind ramble, I concluded that to inspire others (to encourage people into greater efforts or greater enthusiasm or creativity) is the crux of creative leadership, something which appears to be sadly lacking in much of the world’s political leadership. How might we inspire others? What do you think? It’s not difficult to recognise two ways; one is to be expressive, using inspiring words, (e.g. Henry V to his men at Harfleur courtesy of Shakespeare, , or Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech titled “I Have a Dream”). The other is through behaviour, e.g. the expressive behaviour of the football team captain, inspiring his team by fighting for every ball, his energy infecting others. As I rode I decided that words can only truly inspire if one has... read more

49 Make Transformation Simpler

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 49 If we consider how change will affect people in detail, we are likely to avoid their resistance…   “The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled.”  Cicero 55 BC When creating transformation, how might you make it easier for people? Imagine you are roused by the sound of somebody rifling through your dustbin. You tell them politely to “clear off” and they retort that their actions are legal, they are a council official investigating if you have mixed a plastic bottle in with the garden waste. You return to bed, sure that you are having an Orwellian nightmare. Welcome to my local Council’s world. Recently, they informed us that we must now recycle all waste and separate it in to three bins. If we contaminate a bin with the wrong material it could result in a fine of £1000. I empathise with the recycling cause and the reason for the change (the cost and environmental impact of dumping waste) but this was a classic example of poor change management. Three symptoms are: They gave one week’s notice of the change They didn’t gear up to take questions about the change, so the local media gleefully reported complaints from householders who, like my wife, waited forever when telephoning the council The only permissible recyclable food waste bags (sole distributor, the Public Library!) are not available until three weeks after the scheme’s introduction We have found it awkward to implement the recycling mandate.  I waste five minutes sorting the rubbish to... read more