Yes! And® Blog

5 Tools to Explore Opportunities [Yes! And Blog 155]

 “Using a metaphor in front of a man as unimaginative as Ridcully was like a red flag to a bu…was like putting something very annoying in front of someone annoyed by it.” Terry Pratchett. Author. Lords and Ladies.   If you want to explore a problem or opportunity well, here are five  tools. Imagine that you are sitting in an exam hall with an MBA examination paper in front of you; the subject is Creativity, Innovation and Change. The examiner asks you to turn over your paper, you look at the first question and your mind goes completely blank. You cannot think how to tackle the question. An examination question is a problem to solve or an opportunity to show what you know. It is comparable to exploring a problem or opportunity in work. What are some ways you might structure your exploration? Some of you will know that until recently, I ran an exam study day for students on the Open University, “Creativity, Innovation and Change” course with my friend and associate, Elvin Box. We ran the last ever one in October 2012 (sadly this brilliant course has finished after twenty years) and so that they did not fall victim to the blank mind syndrome, we encouraged the students to structure how they might answer the question. To do this we suggested a number of generic tools that are easy to recall and use. As I travelled home from the study day, I thought those tools might be useful for Creative Gorillas. As a bonus, you can use them for evaluation too. 5 Ws and H Who? What?... read more

Engage People with Open Space [Yes! And Blog 153]

“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.” Muhammad Ali, former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion If you hold large gatherings for staff and clients, want to increase engagement and don’t want to create agendas, find speakers, obtain their presentations and run through time consuming rehearsals, Open Space might be the answer. I was one of the organisers of the SOLWorld Conference at Oxford University. This is an annual gathering of Solutions Focused practitioners from over twenty countries. Conference is not the best word to describe the SOL World events. My recollection of conferences is of speakers boring hundreds of people for thirty minutes with presentations that could have been read in five. Mind you, I did attend conferences on payments. SOLWorld in contrast is, as someone fed back to us, “inspiring, stimulating and fun-filled.”  If you would like to experience a taste of it, you can download my photo diary here. One feature of SOLWorld gatherings is the use of Open Space, a form of meeting in which people self organise and for which there is no predetermined agenda. Owen Harrison, an organisational transformation (OT) consultant, allegedly “discovered” this style of meeting after the attendees at his first two OT conferences found the coffee breaks the most useful aspect. As he had no part in designing the coffee breaks, he decided to relieve himself of the burden of designing the event and hand it over to the participants. Open Space was born. If you hold large gatherings for staff and clients and are looking for an alternative to creating agendas, finding speakers, obtaining their presentations and running through time... read more

How to Conduct a Motivating Post Project Review [Yes! And blog 151]

“One does not have to be a mad scientist to travel in time.” Authors of research paper: “Back to the future. Temporal Perspective in the Explanation of Events.”  Need to run a brief post project review including remote teams? Post Project (or phase of a project) Reviews are a regular type of meeting that organisations run. However, there can be some issues: Often, people are keen to get on with the next project or phase of the project; time is short amongst the team Projects don’t always go to plan; there can be sensitive issues to discuss leading to friction during the review Some parts of the team are often based in different locations and must participate via teleconference or video conference A client asked me to run a workshop to review one phase in a project. I expected this to be a half-day with all participants in London, no issue. However, my brief was to complete the workshop in two hours, be sensitive to some challenging topics and ensure three people linking in via videoconference would feel part of the workshop. Luckily, I enjoy a challenge. My first thought was that two hours was too short, however, it transpired that an extra 30 minutes extra were available if all agreed on the day. This was still not a lot of time, so I decided to use Solutions Focus (SF, please see Improve Collaboration With Solution Focus for a PDF article on this), which is very efficient and invaluable when there are sensitive topics to deal with. Even though I am highly experienced with SF, with a challenging brief I decided... read more

Be a Creative Guerrilla [Yes! And blog 148]

“Do not to bring living hens into mountainous people’s houses.” Vietminh Recommendation How can you use guerrilla tactics to inject creativity in your organisation? A few years ago, I tutored one of my regular MBA residential courses on Creativity and Innovation. A student was convinced that she would not be able to use creative tools in her work place; she was a solicitor in a firm of solicitors and she thought that her rather conservative colleagues would not accept such tools and that rules and procedures would inhibit them. Some of you might be in a similar situation and might need to adopt “creative guerrilla” tactics (a term I first saw used in the Open University course on Creativity and Innovation) to introduce creativity into your organisation. Rather than launch into a list of tactics, I thought it would be interesting to use analogical idea generation, considering some tactics of military guerrillas and relating them to the organisation. Just as a “health warning”, I am not making any political comment about guerrillas or the Vietminh here! Analogy is a proven way to generate ideas, especially if you are stuck and it is useful to find interesting analogies. SO Here are some guerrilla tactics, not in order of importance and some ways you might adapt them. I don’t pretend it is exhaustive; as you read, think of other ways. Recruit like minded people and operate in small groups Find others in your organisation that think like you and create a network Help each other to build your skills and knowledge of tools Confront small groups, not the full force Expand... read more

Map Your Goals and Challenges [Yes! And Blog 147]

“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” John F. Kennedy, former US President How might you gain a better understanding of your goals and challenges? Kennedy made the above point in a “State of the Union” speech to the US Congress on 25 May 1961. Whilst most countries would probably dedicate a whole speech on the subject, the moon landing was one of eight strategic goals that Kennedy spoke about and was just one of the four space initiatives that included communication and weather satellites! The reason for starting with this moon landing story is to illustrate that whatever your goal, it will form part of a taller and wider hierarchy that you can represent on a map. For example, a more operational goal would be “Enable astronauts to write in weightless environments.” (This might remind you of the story that the USA spent millions of dollars inventing a pen to write in space whilst the USSR used a pencil. People often cite this story as a reason to find the simplest solution, however, please see my closing story for a different insight.) SO If your goal is very strategic and you wish to understand the hierarchy of goals beneath it, you can use a Level Map. This enables you to: • Diagram that hierarchy and see the relationships before you choose one to work on. • Chunk the goal into lower level goals, thus increasing the potential goals to achieve and reducing the... read more