Yes! And® Blog

28 Play With Ideas to Innovate More…

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 28 The search for a solution should be as much fun as finding it… “The Palaeolithic hunters who painted the unsurpassed animal murals on the ceiling of the cave at Altamira had only rudimentary tools. Art is older than production for use, and play older than work. Man was shaped less by what he had to do than by what he did in playful moments. It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities.” Eric Hoffer Do you allow yourself and your team the opportunity to enjoy tackling challenges as much as finding the solution?    On our recent holiday in a game reserve we went in search of a leopard. We drove for miles in an open top Land Rover, knowing there was a leopard around but not knowing quite where. We didn’t find it, but we had a great time looking! It struck me as we drove around that we spend a lot of time tackling challenges in our work. Finding the solution is rewarding, but we spend a lot more time searching than finding, so wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy the “hunt” too? This relates to “Value Play”, one of the twelve precepts (or principles) for fostering creativity in an organisation that John Martin writes about in the Open University course on Creativity, Innovation and Change (click for further details of the course). “Value play” means (in my words) to allow yourself and others to be childlike (not... read more

27 Use Metaphors to Facilitate Transformation

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 27 Metaphors are a great tool for transformation and innovation. Are you using metaphors to their full power? “The metaphor is probably the most fertile power possessed by man.” Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883 – 1955) Spanish philosopher “Tim, you’ve changed. You’re caring. Giving. You’re… loving. And you’ve got a termite coming out of your ear.” TV Programme Home Improvement; script We were driving round the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa, when our ranger stopped at a termite hill. “This one is dead” she remarked. “The aardvark (anteater) has burrowed in to feed on the termites and has rooted out the queen along with the others. Without the queen, the colony dies within weeks.” As we drove on I considered that if the aardvark had been brighter, he could have had an endless supply of food, as the queen produces twenty thousand eggs a DAY. I wondered too if we couldn’t use this as a metaphor for some organisational interventions. In a bid to capture the most “termites”, e.g. obtain greater productivity, from the “termite hill” i.e. the organisation, the “aardvark” i.e. management, destroys the “queen” that sustained it, e.g. its creative staff? Having pondered that, I got on with my holiday! So Metaphors are a powerful way to view a situation. Zoltan Kovecses explains in his book (“Metaphors. A Practical Introduction”) that the metaphor has a target (e.g. the organisation) and a source (e.g. the termite hill). You compare the characteristics of the source (e.g. aardvark eats queen) with the characteristics of the target to visualise the target, (I’ll let you imagine your... read more

26 Creative Gorilla Meditate to Innovate

YES! AND… Facilitate, Innovate, Transform By meditating you can make yourself more creative and innovative.   “I am very busy today; I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Mahatma Gandhi Do you ever get days when you are frayed at the edges? Imagine the dodgem cars at a fairground. Cars are flying around in different directions; some hit each other head on, some sideways, some from the rear. They all bounce as they collide, narrowly missed by the crafty “bravehearts” cruising round the outside. I’m not sure the above descriptions make much sense in some countries but imagine the cars are the neurons in your brain on a hectic day. There is so much information assaulting your senses you can barely think, let alone be creative. Have you ever considered meditation? Lying in yet another hotel bed at four a.m. local time, my brain is a kaleidoscope of information, images running through my mind…if this were a TV script I’d probably say something like “cue dream sequence”… I see the embarrassment of going for a quick rest break and leaving my lapel microphone on for the delegates to hear…walking in to the ladies changing room in the swimming pool because I didn’t understand the Russian sign (making apologetic sign language as I backed out!)…the dull thud in my head of the two beers I had before bed… At times like this I find it helpful to meditate. I sat up, meditated for thirty minutes and slowly the dodgem cars began to form an orderly queue around the rink with “careful driver” awards for all. So It is... read more

25 Focus on What Works to Facilitate Transformation

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 25 If you have people  focus on strengths you can help them to achieve more. “What have you done today, to make you feel proud?” M People, Lyrics Has anyone ever said they were proud to be on your team? After an evening’s speaking engagement, I rose at 4.30 a.m to drive from my hotel back to home, for my 7 year old son’s class assembly. It was worth the early rise. Each child stood in front of the school and parents to say what it was that had made them proud during their year at school. Their teacher had made a great PowerPoint presentation, with a slide recording each child’s contribution, to aid their memory and help the audience when a small voice occasionally faded. In addition, the children sang “Proud” and performed a choreographed song and dance to “Reach for the Stars”. It was a pleasure to listen and watch. Two inspiring moments were: The child who haltingly and confidently read from the screen how proud they were to have improved their reading skills The child who loudly and clearly related how proud they were to have improved their speech A few of the adults were wiping their eyes by the end. I reflected on the event afterwards, delighted to know the school are developing in the children a sense of pride in their achievement. It was also a useful reminder of how important it is to focus on the positive things that are happening, not just the negatives. In “The Solutions Focus” (a great read by Paul Z Jackson and... read more

24 Sense Opportunities

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 24 Tune your creative antennae to be much more sensitive with the 5 “Ds”. Miracles, you do not have to look for them. They are there, 24/7, beaming like radio waves around  you. Put up the antenna, turn up the volume – snap… crackle… this just in, every person you talk to is a chance to change the world… Hugh Elliott, Standing Room Only weblog, May 6, 2003 (The blog is not for those of a sensitive nature) This week I took a taxi to Cairo airport. Being a car passenger in Cairo invariably leads you to close your eyes and hope, (the drivers have their eyes closed already), but this was 7.00 a.m. on a Friday with little traffic around. Even so my taxi was “cut up” by a speeding driver. A kilometre further up the road on a bend the speedster lit his hazard flashers and slowed. My driver took the opportunity to overtake and accelerated. Every antenna in my body stared resonating, “Why are his hazard lights on? Something is wrong… why the hazards?” and I clung to the hand strap. (Seat belts? Hah!). Rounding the bend at 100 kilometres per hour  (my eyes glued to the speedometer) we hit an accident scene. My driver braked, skidded on spilt oil and we began scraping along the central reservation. My antennae were right. Antennae are useful (if you are in control!) Before the launch of the Creative Gorilla, I was concerned I might have insufficient inspiration to move past five articles. The impetus to start writing was the advice Michael Neill gave... read more

23 Use Ideas From Other Industries

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 23 How do you systematically look for ideas from other industries? “When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth” George Bernard Shaw ~ Playwright How are you getting fresh ideas in to your organisation? Have you ever booked an airline ticket online? In my worst experience I clicked on the wrong button and closed the screen. When I went back a minute later, the fare had increased £15. It happened again this week; check the fare, book it an hour later and the fare is up £20. Finally you reach the last page and they tell you there is a £40 surcharge for fuel, airport tax and £5 for emergency oygen. I was aggrieved (mainly because, by now I should have learned to book when I look) and the experience must have stayed in my subsconcious because this morning I awoke with the wicked thought for how I could offer my Teeming with Llamas course to all of these airlines. In the first paragraph I would offer the course at £75 per head if they book now. By the second paragraph it would be £150 and by the salutation it would be £450. In the postscript I would inform them that refreshments must be paid for and that there is a surcharge for use of the  field; (“Let’s take a comfort break now. Premium Class… facilities are in the house, Standard Class… please avoid the llama pellets when using the field”). Humour apart, there is the germ of a creative idea here. Major training companies with online booking facilities could offer... read more

22 How to Use the Random Connection Technique

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 22 “Random connections” is a useful technique when stuck for ideas. “I have an idea!”  “Twas he that ranged the words at random flung pierced the fair pearls and them together strung.” Bidpai Pilpay If called on to run a creative session RIGHT NOW could you deliver? Imagine you are waiting to meet with a colleague or client. Suddenly the door flies open and they appear. “Sam, (or whatever), we’re trying to come up with a name for our new service and thought you could give us some ideas”. You enter and four expectant faces (and a remote worker on the speaker ‘phone) look up. Do you: Panic? Start thinking of ideas for a name? Search your mind for a handy creative technique and facilitate an idea generation session? This scenario happened to me last week at a client’s office. I opted for choice “C”. Oh OK, I admit I went through option “A” for a split second because I normally prepare thoroughly before a creative session. I facilitated using “Random Connection” (click here and search on our site for details on the technique). This is a great technique to use when you have a blank sheet of paper, blank minds and little time. We used random words and random objects as a catalyst between the information in the group’s head and the issue in hand and produced about seventy ideas. Some facilitation tips are: Not all ideas are realistic so challenge the group to find a practical idea from these “springboards” (this is essential if you are to avoid cynicism from those who believe... read more

21 Find the Qualities of a Creative Leader

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 21 Creative leaders have a number of qualities, what do you think they are? “She accomplished more in her 28 years than most people do in a lifetime” Patrick Leahy US Senator Browsing at the station newsvendor at St Paul’s, the leader article in the Independent stood out. A “framed” photograph of a young woman who was not a celebrity, but one whose life we should celebrate. Maria Ruzicka was the unlucky victim of a bomb in Iraq and someone who, from the evidence in the article and whatever your political views, could teach us lessons about the qualities of being a creative leader. Try to pick them out in this brief story. Maria was an American aid worker in Iraq. She was driven by a simple premise: if the US caused suffering it should try and help the innocent people who suffered. As such, she established a charity, CIVIC, to provide relief for the innocent victims of the war. She negotiated government bureaucracy in Washington and personally lobbied senators to secure $10 million funding to help people who had lost the family breadwinner. In Iraq, she cultivated those US officials that decided who would receive compensation, to speed compensation to the right people. In addition, she used her prodigious energy to successfully pester diplomats for aid, cajole journalists for promotion and to console victims who considered her a warm and open hearted person. So What qualities did you identify? I identified these: A strong set of values A clear premise on which to work Vision – a well defined goal Self confidence... read more

20 Balance operation and innovation

 YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 20 How do you obtain the right balance of operation and innovation? “This coffee plunges in to the stomach…. the mind is aroused and ideas pour forth like the battalions of the Grand Army on the field of battle. Memories charge at full gallop… the Light Cavalry of comparisons deploys itself magnificently, the artillery of logic hurries in with their train of ammunition and flashes of wit pop up like sharp shooters.” Honore de Balzac, Author and Journalist “So was that decaffeinated coffee you had, Honore?” John Brooker  Is your organisation balancing operation and innovation correctly? In my office I start up my brand new (expensive) computer. It has a noisy fan. Box it up and return it. Fan replaced, I fire it up. No sound and the memory reader doesn’t work. I wonder at the money they spend on advertising when they can’t get the basics right. In my car I drive in to a motorway service station to buy a coffee. The billboard adverts extol the virtues of their Italian coffee. “A decaff coffee to take away please.” “Sorry” says the lady behind the counter, “we haven’t got any lids.” “No lids?” I reply, bemused. “No, we’ve only got six cups left too.” I think she is proud of that. Pushed for time and not wanting hot coffee in my lap, I leave without coffee and muse on the logistical planning that leaves a coffee store without the basic needs to trade. After twenty articles, most of you will realise I am a raving fan of creative thinking and innovation.... read more