Yes! And® Blog

19 Make Time to Think Creatively

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 19 You should give yourself time to think and innovate. “Exit, pursued by a bear”.  William Shakespeare – stage direction, in “The Winter’s Tale”. “Exit, in pursuit of a beer”.  John Brooker – seeking direction in a Russian winter’s tale. Last month I was being driven from an airport in Moscow to the hotel. The driver had limited English (though better than my three words of Russian) but was very talkative. As we passed a large advertising hoarding next to a forest he said, “Fifteen years ago my friend’s…” I anticipated a tale of brave heroes “…car was hit by a moose there”. I laughed. He continued, “In this forest we have moose and er… pork?” “Wild boar?” I suggested. “Da, da, in the forest, moose, pig, but no beer.” I looked at him, puzzled, I guess no beer would ruin the barbeque and then I translated correctly. “Ah, BEAR!” He nodded. “Da, da, BEAR. Beer you drink yes?” We both laughed but I wondered, shamefully, if a mouse rather than a moose had hit his friend’s car! During the ongoing very slow journey, the “moose, pork and beer” trilogy triggered off the memory of a game called Giants, Wizards and Goblins that I use in some workshops. Some of you have played it. For those who haven’t, it is similar to the children’s game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” but acted out with the body. In the game, Giants kill Wizards, Wizards kill Goblins and Goblins kill Giants, so it shouldn’t take you too much effort to see how the new... read more

18 Be Brave to Innovate

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 18 You have to be a bit brave to innovate, but it is worth the risk…  “It’s a different kind of scary.”  Michael Neill World Class Coach Do you ever fail to put forward an idea because of the risk of rejection?  Next week (by the time you read this it will be over), I am piloting a new course, “Teeming with Llamas”, using llamas to help people understand team working. I have planned it, rehearsed it and invited along a group of friends that I know will provide honest and contructive feedback. Even so, I am nervous that it may go wrong. What has that to do with creative leadership? Simply, for innovation to happen it requires a number of factors, one of which is to be able to face risks. In the book, “How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work“, by Dave Allen et al, the authors call this “Bravery”. I hesitate to use that term in my case but, using the llamas for context, let’s take a look at what they call: “The five steps to creative bravery”. (I have adapted a few points for brevity). Step 1: Face your fear ~ go your own way and discuss your fears. One of my fears was that people would think using llamas to develop learning would be a ridiculous idea. Indeed, I did get a few wry grins from people I discussed it with. But I got sufficient positive feedback to give it a try. Step 2: Know your comfort zone. I knew that I would put... read more

How to Make Change Stick [Yes! And. Blog #17]

To make change stick you need certain things in place… “In this world of change, naught which comes stays and naught which goes is lost” Anne-Sophie Swetchine ~ Russian hostess How can you make change stick? The family visited the Roman baths in Bath last week, learning about the Romans in Britain. I never realised that Julius Caesar’s army came and left, the Romans not returning for 100 years. Were they hoping the weather might change? I also didn’t realise how abrupt their departure was after they did settle. They took over the country for four hundred years, and then they left. After a while, it was like they had never been. That may be a simplistic view, but all of their brilliant engineering, sewers, water supplies, buildings and roads (even if the route was there), that brought major benefit to the country rotted away or were destroyed. How could that happen? I wondered if the Romans could settle and rule a country for 400 years and leave almost no trace of their settlement, how difficult must it be to cement change in organisations, even if it is for the good of the company? There’s a temptation here to reach for the textbooks and see what Kotter and other change gurus would say. But let’s try some thinking first, consider what might have been needed to make the Roman way of life stick and see what conclusions we can draw for ourselves about change. I think: The Romans enslaved many of the indigenous people who did not benefit as much from the changes, so there would be little urgency... read more

16 Categorise Creative Techniques

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 16 You have a choice of techniques you can use to tackle your challenges, mix and match them. “Lister: “They’re not comin’ back… I’m lost in deep space… I’m three million years from home… No life, no bed, no nothin’… Just me… and 3 1/2 tons of curry. [pause] Fan-smeggin-TASTIC!” (From, Red Dwarf, a UK TV programme) It is 11.00 p.m. You have been out for the night in a Welsh town. It is too far to walk home so you want to get a taxi. You are also hungry and want an Indian meal. Unfortunately, you have only enough money either for the taxi or the curry. How might you satisfy both needs?? I was at dinner with a team from a client the other day and one of them, Duncan, recounted the story above. His solution was both funny and ingenious. He knew the restaurant would deliver meals over a certain cost to your home. So he went in, ordered a home delivery meal and then asked if they could drop him off at the same time as the meal. Which they did! I thought Duncan’s solution showed real creativity so let’s analyse it to see what we can learn about the creative process. First, he proved a formula of creativity, Creativity = Knowledge x Imagination x Evaluation [source Parnes, with thanks to Min Basadur for providing the reference]. I will leave you to work out how Duncan proved C. He also proved, (by asking for what he wanted), that creativity is useful only if we add the... read more

14 Create Better Training

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 14 We owe people who attend our presentations or training courses the right to some creativity… “This is a battle, a war and the casualties could be your hearts and minds”  Robin Williams in the film “Dead Poets Society”   This week I facilitated a course for trainees who are not professional trainers but provide training as part of their role. The majority of them train on technical or process topics and to date their delivery has consisted mainly of PowerPoint presentations and talking to the audience, with a few exercises included. The key challenge I posed the participants was “How might you provide your course (or presentation) without a single PowerPoint slide?” The most rewarding part of the course for me was to observe people move from a state of scepticism, (“Well, I can see it working on soft subjects but it wouldn’t work with my technical topic”), to a state of enthusiasm, keen to try new ways to share information, help people recall it and encourage them to use the knowledge they gain. One of my inspirations for the course is the film “Dead Poets Society”, set in a top American preparatory school in the late 1950’s. Robin Williams as the English teacher avoids the tedium of “chalk and talk” (Didn’t they have PowerPoint in the Fifties Daddy?) and rote learning. He wins over his sceptical pupils by involving their minds, body and emotions in learning, so that they truly understand the message and meaning in every poem. He uses methods that will inspire them to recall the... read more

13 Encourage Transformation

 YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Gorilla # 13 If you treat staff as consumers rather than as human resources, might you effect change better…? “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. “ Carl Jung Psychologist When you are faced with a change programme at work, would you rather be treated as a consumer or a human resource? I read somewhere that 80% of change programmes don’t achieve objectives, (if you know the source please let me know). Why might this happen? Could it be because so many change programmes treat those involved as resources to be controlled by using e.g. “bogus consultations”, “traffic light” project tracking, name and shame progress reports and “copy all” e-mails to managers who are slipping deadlines. It is little surprise that people revert to previous behaviours once the controls are released. Some years ago I took responsibility for a company change programme, to implement and document all processes. There were a few challenges because the company was not process oriented outside of computer operations, people were change fatigued after three company change programmes and the day job was keeping them busy! Had I accepted a poison chalice or a G & T on the patio? It depends how you frame the problem and reframing a problem in a different way is a powerful creative technique. “What if,” I mused, “we treat the staff as consumers rather than human resources? Would that make them more responsive?” So we did, and they were. We ran the change programme as a consumer campaign. We held optional consultation sessions (over a third... read more

12 How to Use the What If? Technique

YES! AND… Facilitate, Innovate, Transform – Creative Gorilla # 12 If you seek a way to challenge conventional thinking, try this technique…   “Not even the fastest, most modern jet can come close to matching Santa’s speed.”  Petty Officer Bev Allen, NORAD If you are looking for a way to challenge conventional thinking, might Santa give you food for thought? On Christmas Eve my children had great fun (me too!) tracking Santa’s progress towards London on the web site (NORAD is a US / Canadian military radar defence organisation. If you have young kids, do check out their Santa site next year). As we watched videos of Santa crossing many different cities in the world the children marvelled at the speed at which he progressed and the idea for this article sprang to mind. Thanks for the unexpected present Santa (and the people at NORAD). A technique you can use to challenge convention is to ask the “What If” question. What if we had to deliver these goods to millions of customers in the world in one night? (Wonder where that idea came from?). What if we could reduce the lead-time for this process from sixty days to one?  What if we had a policy of NO redundancies? If you examine these questions, you should see that they are challenging accepted norms, the “rules” and the assumptions (which may be implicit) about a situation. “It takes sixty days to process this form”. “If business slows down, we make people redundant”. You can use the question as a stand-alone technique to aid your creative thinking but I find a... read more

11 Create Meetings with More IMPACT

YES! AND… Facilitate, Innovate, Transform – Creative Gorilla # 11 Here are five principles to help you design meetings with more impact… “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity” Ascribed to Dorothy Parker, Novelist   Do you want your meetings to have more impact? Hi! It’s a beautiful sunny day here in London, glorious spring weather. I am just back from a two hour bike ride and I feel great. I did some exploring, ventured down some new “secret” paths that I had not noticed before, saw stunning scenery and even met a number of people who replied to my, “Good morning”. I was whipped by stinging nettles, shaken to bits on bridleways (horse tracks) and stuck in mud in a hoof hole, but I came back energised, uplifted and so raring to go, I am writing this in my cycle shorts. You know that feeling? Like when you come out of meetings? Energised, uplifted, motivated! Or maybe not. More likely you come out bored, listless and seeking caffeine to change your state. It doesn’t have to be that way. Meetings are something I have thought about a lot this week as I redesigned my “Training with More Impact” course and designed a couple of workshops for clients. The course is based on five principles, which I have adapted over the years from various aspects of accelerated learning and brain friendly (see training. Whilst cycling, I reflected that meetings are about learning too, at least they should be. Therefore, it would be useful to share these principles with creative leaders like you, so... read more

10 Change Your State to Think Creatively

YES! AND… Facilitate, Innovate, Transform  Creative Gorilla # 10 You may never be as creative as Beethoven, but would you like inspiration when you need it? “I need some help, some inspiration. (But it’s not coming easily)” Natasha Bedingfield “These Words“ I needed to write this Creative Gorilla article one evening when I had been facilitating all day and Natasha Bedingfield had written the above words for me. Luckily in these situations I have a short cut to tap in to some inspiration. I play my favourite piece of classical music, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, played by the Boston Philarmonic, conducted by Benjamin Zander. There is a moment in the Fourth Movement (“Double Fugue. Allegro energico chorus “) in which Beethoven (forgive me if I describe this poorly, I am not a music scholar) counterpoints three strands of music in a climax that raises the hairs on my neck. My spirits soar. At the moment he wrote this piece one might truly believe Beethoven was kissed by a higher being. Ludwig’s genius worked its magic again as I listened to the music and my mind began to work. Those of you conversant with Neuro Linguistic Programming will know that this is a change of “state” from unproductive to productive, by altering my focus (listening to a favourite piece rather than thinking of less inspiring things). In addition, I can reinforce the new state by altering my physiology. Often this involves just tilting my head back to listen, but sometimes I stand up (and if no one is looking, I might try a bit of conducting too!) You will have your... read more