Here’s a simple but powerful tool to identify actions creatively. “To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Today, I sat in the cockpit of a 737 aircraft as the pilot landed very smoothly at Phnom Penh airport in Cambodia. Ten minutes later, I was home in London. No, time travel has not come to London. I was with my son as we observed a crew flying a flight simulator. This is an annual “trip” of flying a full sized Boeing 737 BBJ flight simulator around the world in aid of charity Dreamflight.
They are raising money by flying 24 hours a day for 7 days as part of a team of eight crews, using “air traffic controllers” around the world to guide them in to the airports, a stunning effort. Before you think, “There are plenty of flight simulators around,” you should know that amateurs build all these. Fellow Yes! And blog reader, Ralph Watson built the one I visited, in a garage. His accomplishment is quite astounding and my son thought it “awesome!” Ralph showed me on his web site the progression of his simulator from a desktop computer in 2001 to the full sized version you can see today by going to his web site, http://www.737-800bbj.com. [Take a look at the Kai Tak link too!] As he explained it, I thought how well his journey from 2001 to today might have been mapped out using the creative tool I will explain here. The tool is Action Storyboard that is based on one called Cartoon Storyboard, developed by Jane Henry,... read more
Do you face the challenge of keeping your regular team meetings fresh? Here are twelve tried and tested ways to kick off your meeting, one for each month in the year. To take the burden off you, each month, assign a title to a different person in the group and have them organise and run it for that month’s meeting. For the cynical amongst your team, we give a reason for doing the exercise as well as an explanation of how to run it. Most exercises take no more than five minutes. Month Title Action Reason January Wrecking Crew Split the team in to threes. Have them devise three ways the most senior person in the group could wreck the meeting. Next, have them devise three ways each person could wreck the workshop. Record on a flipchart. Review the outcomes and reverse them. Gain agreement from the group to use these as guidelines for this and future meetings. Establish guidelines for this and future meetings in an entertaining way. February Coincidences Pair up. Run through your life and in two minutes of rapid conversation try to find a coincidence. Some suggestions are: Where born; Where live; Where educated; Where married; Favourite destinations; Interests; Team supported; Companies worked for; How many children; Type of work; Hobbies; Favourite film etc Have people get to know each other better. Even if they don’t find a coincidence, they learn a lot. Month Title Action Reason March Draw a Face Pair up. Each person must remain silent throughout. Each takes turns in drawing a line on a piece of paper to form a face.... read more
If you need to great ideas in a hurry, here are five tools that can help.
Yes! And… Blog # 135 Some thoughts on the future of work… “The saddest point in life would be going to our grave not having sung our song.” Penny Power (Social Media Commentator et al) Have some fresh thoughts? I have mentioned in the past how peculiar it is when events coincide. Earlier in the week, a colleague and I gave a talk on influencing to leaders in a major bank, using the subject of Dee Hock the founder of the Visa payments system (more of this in a later blog). Yesterday I went to an event called Key Person of Influence. I approached it with a deal of scepticism, expecting a big sales event, high on selling and low on valuable content. However, I took an open mind and a closed wallet. I’m glad I took the open mind. It was a terrific event with lots of thought provoking material. Consequently, I thought I would write my latest article on some of the points I picked up. This is not one of my usual structured articles, more a collection of thoughts that I trust you will find interesting. You can read more in the book Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley who turned out to be a role model for his book. Refreshing for me was the fact that the speakers were mostly millionaires (and aspiring millionaires) who gave of their time to come along and enthuse and inform small business owners. The organisation is changing Every radical innovation has a twenty year lag before it becomes mainstream, and dare I say disruptive. Witness TV, air travel and... read more
Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 134 How Might You Make Better Decisions? “The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994) American Poet and Novelist Would you like to make better choices? Imagine you are facilitating a meeting with a group and you have to choose from a range of options. One way you can do this is to explain each option briefly and take a vote. You count the votes for each item and choose the one with the most votes to move forward. Many people do this because it is quick. Another reason is that people sense “One person, one vote” is fair and democratic. “Taking a vote” happens quite often in organisations… and is quite often an unsatisfactory way of proceeding. In this article I will explain my reason for saying so and will also describe a tool I use a great deal when facilitating. Words have meaning! The term “voting” seems to bring out the competitive spirit in some people, so voting on an option becomes a win or lose scenario for them. To overcome this issue avoid saying, “Let’s take a vote”. Alternatively say, “Let’s choose how to move forward.” (I confess even after many years of facilitating, the word “vote” does pop out of my mouth now and again, so don’t feel despondent if this happens to you!). The “Dot Choice” Tool When making a choice, rather than vote by hand, have the group use sticky... read more
Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 132 The Business Model Canvas is a powerful thinking tool… “The Business Model Canvas was highly effective and really challenged our thinking” Client of Yes! And… Need a new business model? Many of you will have heard of the recent issues experienced by a top media company in Britain. You may also know I look constantly for clues for new Gorilla articles so whilst others may have found interest in the scandal, I was drawn to the company’s decision to close a Sunday newspaper. Of particular interest are the rumours, fuelled by registration of new URLs, that management plans to extend one of their daily titles to become a new Sunday newspaper. The Gorilla “clue” for me is the change in the business model and so I am going to discuss a way you might facilitate a team to analyse its business model. This is an exercise I ran recently for a client and to facilitate their analysis I used the “Business Model Canvas”. This tool consists of nine blocks or sections on a metaphorical artists “canvas”. The blocks enable you to analyse your business model in a number of different areas: Customer Segments: For whom do you create value Customer Relationships: The relationship you have with different segments, e.g. self service Channels: The channels through which you reach your customer, e.g. a sales force Key Activities: E.g. Creating an easy to use web site Key Resources: E.g. System architects Key Partners: E.g. A third party who provides software programming services Value Proposition: What value you deliver to the customer Cost Structure: The key... read more
Reason for Use Challenges can be structured in hierarchies, e.g. from “How to land a rocket on the moon?” to “How to make a pen that writes in areas of no gravity?’ If your opportunity is complex and you wish to understand the hierarchy of challenges within it, you can use a Level Map. It enables you to: Diagram that hierarchy and see the relationships before you choose one to work on. Chunk the challenge into lower level challenges to tackle Clarify the challenge for people. Understand whether you should broaden or narrow the scope of the challenge you wish to tackle (“How to land on the moon” at a strategic level and “How to write in areas of no gravity” at the operational level) depending on your ability to influence it Increase the potential challenges to exploit (and split them between your team] Scope the number of ideas / solutions you will generate in the Create Solutions stage (e.g. “How to write in areas of no gravity” at the operational level?” is likely to generate fewer and different ideas to (“How to land on the moon”). Therefore you may wish to choose a lower level challenge. Action to Take 1. Use rectangular “Super Sticky “ Post It Notes Start by writing a challenge on the note, e.g. “How to increase new revenue for accepting banks?” The use of “How to (H2)…?” turns a statement into a constructive challenge 2. Place the challenge centrally on a large surface. 3. Go up to a broader level of focus by asking, “Why”? E.g. “Why do we want to increase new revenue for accepting banks?” The answer... read more
Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 130 Need a simple tool to build a team…? Use iMA “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius The plug on our bathroom sink has broken. It’s one of those fiddly ones; you press a lever and it lifts the plug to empty the water. Something has gone wrong inside so I can’t fix it. Not a problem for the rest of the family but difficult if you need to shave, unless you waste water running the tap. So one day I was washing a dirty golf ball in the sink when I dropped the ball. Eureka! The sink started to fill because the ball fits the plughole perfectly. I have now expanded the uses for a golf ball, get a hole in one every time and have a simple solution to a problem, which leads me to the topic of this article. One important way to enhance innovation is to have a team that works well together. Those of you who lead teams will know that there are many instruments available to profile your team members, help people understand each other and improve performance. Some of these tools are expensive, some are quite complicated, and some are administered by qualified psychologists. Some are all three. Recently, I became accredited to facilitate workshops using a behavioural tool known as IMA (Identify your style; Modify your style; Adapt your style for different people). This tool doesn’t pretend to be a psychometric tool. It doesn’t set out to explain what is going on in your head or the head of... read more
Yes! And… Creative Gorilla # 129 Need to make a demotivated team more positive…? “I rant, therefore I am.” Dennis Miller, Comedian Do you need to elicit issues safely? When you hold a meeting it can be important to let people discuss their work problems and frustrations. However, if a lot of people state their concerns to the whole group it can consume time and create a negative mood in the meeting. How can you effectively let people vent their frustrations and create a positive mood in the meeting, quickly? Here is a technique I have adapted from one called “Moan, Moan, Moan”. I call it the “Constructive Rant. “ I use it a great deal when I facilitate because it is enjoyable for participants and it works. Typically, I use it at the start of a meeting to create a “platform”, a starting point from which the group can move on. I have used it with group sizes from 5 to 90 and results have ranged from good to excellent. Without tempting fate, there is no down side that I have found, unless it rains. Instructions (This example is based on a team building session) 1. Pair people up (If you have an odd three people left over, it is still possible for them to do Constructive Rant, but you will need to allow extra time) and brief them as follows [I recommend you write a summary of this on a flipchart to make it easier to follow]: You are going to go for a walk Whilst you are walking, one of you will speak for three minutes... read more