Yes! And® Blog

Reperceive Situations… [Yes! And. Blog 120]

“There is no truth. Only perception.” Edith Sitwell (English  Author) Looking at a challenge in a fresh way can transform how you tackle it… Once, I gave an after dinner talk for around 80 college lecturers and examiners attending a seminar on innovation in assessment. The premise of my talk, more an interactive lecture, was that if we could inspire people to enjoy the whole process of exams, it would reap benefits for the college and be an innovation in assessment. This idea underpinned a study day that my friend, Elvin Box, and I ran for many years, for MBA students studying Creativity, Innovation and Change. We challenged the students to enjoy and look forward to the exam rather than dread it. I had happily accepted the challenge of giving the talk, but a couple of weeks after accepting I became a little nervous, wondering what I would find to talk about that would interest and be of use to the audience. I didn’t realise how nervous I was until one night, I had a dream. In it I was delivering the talk and in front of everybody, could not think of a thing to say. In the dream, (this is absolutely true) Piers Brosnan , ex – James Bond and erstwhile singer in “Mamma Mia,” appeared and sagely told me all I needed to know. He may even have sung it, I don’t recall because when I awoke, I had forgotten all he told me! However, some of you will recognise the type of dream as the “examination dream”, one I used to have regularly before appearing in plays, constantly forgetting... read more

Solve Challenges More Effectively [Yes! And. Blog 158]

“Where a minute before a handful of tech guys could agree on almost nothing, it took us only five minutes to identify the future perfect on which we all agreed.”                                                                                            Niklas Tiger. Managing Director of Hi5, Sweden.  Want to solve challenges more effectively? How many meetings have you been in where you have tried to tackle a challenge in a team and it just kept going round in circles? The following is a true story related by Niklas Tiger, Managing Director of Hi5, an IT organisation in Sweden that provides outsourced IT services to customers over the Internet. Hi5 is not a client of ours but Niklas has given us permission to create an article as an example of how the Solution Focus approach to tackling challenges and change can work. (Please click on the link to read an article on Solutions Focus). I have adapted the wording for clarity slightly; otherwise this is his story, which, as it is from an organisation, I thought would be valuable for you. If you would rather read this article in an illustrated short ebook, please click here ebook A tale of two meetings. “Implementing Solutions Focus (SF) as a way of managing change in our organisation and also in collaboration with customers, really has transformed our company. A very low tech down to earth example of this happened as recently as this... read more

WOW Help Build a Creative Climate [Yes! And. Blog 157]

“A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.” Thomas Jefferson. 3rd President of the USA.   How appreciating what others do can change your life and build a creative climate Hi. Wouldn’t it be great if this year were a WOW year for you? This article could help you achieve that. For only the third time I am going to use another author to write my blog because I thought this article contained a simple and memorable way to improve the creative climate in your life and organisation.. Julia Kalenberg, a Solution Focus practitioner from Switzerland, writes it, though I have made a few small edits. Here is what she says: Looking at what already works and what is already there instead of looking for what’s missing can change your life and the life of others. If you look at resources instead of problems, you help others grow and create a totally different atmosphere in teams. When I was at the SOLWorld Conference in Oxford in September 2012, I experienced the wonderful effect of a real and authentic “Wow”. When people appreciate what other people do it creates a positive atmosphere that is ideal for development and growth. Coming back from Oxford I thought about what WOW could stand for and decided it can stand for WHO OR WHAT. The WOW Formula Who or what really impressed me today? Who or what am I really grateful for today? Who or what would need a nice word today? Who or what will I really be thankful for tonight and why? Different Levels of WOW The WOW formula works on different levels... read more

Tackle issues more effectively [Yes! And Blog #145]

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius Use Reflecting Teams to find better insights and solutions for an issue or opportunity Imagine you have an issue and want to obtain input from others to broaden your perspective and gain ideas. If you do this in a typical meeting it can often result in frustration as some people throw in ideas prematurely, others dominate the conversation and the talk spirals in endless circles. If that is your experience, you might find it useful to use the Reflecting Teams tool I describe in this article. I have experienced Reflecting Teams many times in UK chapter meetings of the Association for the Quality Development of Solution Focused Consulting and Training (see the web site here, and have found it to be an excellent tool, both for the person with the issue or opportunity and the team. How it works There are a number of variants on the tool I describe here, however, this is the one I have experienced most. Appoint a moderator Choose someone who will run the process and moderate the team so that everybody can contribute equally. This is an important role. Form the team Assemble the team so that all can see and hear the client clearly. This can be around a table or might be a half circle of chairs facing the client. There is no ideal number but it needs at least three people and, for reasons of time, probably no more than 12.... read more

Think Outside the Box? No… [Yes! And. Blog 109]

“Before thinking outside the box, think how you might make your box bigger?” John Brooker Understanding and widening the boundaries of a situation can help you to create more options and better solutions… I took my daughter to compete in the second round of an inter school public speaking competition organised by the Rotary Club. Teams of children, made a speech (no visuals allowed!) to an audience of around sixty people, about a topic of their choice. One introduces the topic and speaker, the second presents the case and a third gives thanks. This is a great challenge for the children and provides an element of entertainment as well as some thoughtful points. During a talk on “Breaking the Mould”, which challenged conventional thinking about small people, one girl in her introduction mentioned that phrase so often heard in the same breath as creativity, “Think outside the box”. She set me thinking. In my world, when setting outcomes with the group on a creativity course, people say regularly that this is what they want to be able to do. My normal response is that “thinking outside the box” is a fair outcome. Could they also make the box bigger? This question usually produces confusion and no wonder, as “think outside the box” derives from the old nine dot puzzle of how to connect all nine dots with a single unbroken line. No matter how big you make that box, you are still going to have to go outside the box to obtain a result. So to avoid confusion, let me explain that in my response, I mix box metaphors.... read more

Lead Teams To Be More Resilient [Yes! And Blog # 97]

Sometimes even successful endeavours can hit a bump, just when success seems certain. Creative leaders can deal with this…   “How my achievements mock me!” William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida   How might you motivate a team that thinks it has succeeded, only to hit an obstacle? I cycled 100km around Warwickshire (or Shakespeare County as the PR people like to describe it) for charity. It was a bitterly cold day, my gears kept slipping on hills and I lost the route four times, ending up cycling on my own for most of the day. About three hours in to the ride, tired and a bit miserable, I was riding up a hill. I kept going, seeing the top get ever closer until at last I breasted the hill… and found it was what I call a false peak, an optical illusion; there was yet more of the hill to climb. After some choice words I chewed an energy bar, drank water, focused on two metres of road to make the hill seem flatter and inched my way up to the top. I was reminded of this scenario, when facilitating a group to revise their strategy. I had worked with most of them two years before, to set their strategy and whilst they had not achieved everything, they had done well with minimal resources. In particular, they had recently received confirmation of substantial funding to recruit more people, which greatly boosted morale … until they realised that they would not actually receive the funding and the new people for some months. At that point, their energy started to falter. They... read more

How to Facilitate Creativity [Yes! And. Blog 100]

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic. Will never find it. ROALD DAHL – THE MINPINS Everyone can be creative; with the right process, techniques and a little magic … Footballer scores 99 goals but stalls before the hundred. Cricketer hits 99 runs and stalls before the hundred. Brooker writes 99 articles and stalls… After the 99th article, I decided to write something “special” for the 100th. I thought I would review all 99 articles, identify the themes and write about them. I didn’t realise how busy I would be and how long it would take to review 99 articles. And, when I had done it, I had no enthusiasm for it! So tonight in my hotel room I gave up on the idea. My 100th goal would not be a thirty metre volley in to the top corner of the net. My 100th run would not be a six in to the crowd. Instead, I would scramble the ball over the line, sneak a quick run, write on any topic and… Just write it…! And a question arrived. In the three months since writing the 99th article, what was the stand out moment about creativity that has stuck in my mind? Here it is. I was running a residential weekend on creativity with MBA students. Two of the students were, I suspect  (I didn’t measure it), adaptive rather than innovative in their style and they were both more introvert than extrovert. They were great people... read more