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Collaborate – Yes! And…

131 Have Your Team Create Itself …

Yes! And… # 131 Let teams organise themselves for greater performance “A hippie celebrates Christmas too… just differently.”   German police report Could your team design their own structure?          As a leader, I recommended to transfer a call centre operation from London to our much larger call centre in the USA. We made the decision and informed staff. It was critical to the success of the operation that the team continued to provide excellent service until the moment of the live transfer. It was vital therefore to maintain morale and motivate people over the six month transition period, while they worked in the call centre and sought other jobs in the organisation. To facilitate this, I arranged a planning workshop with four representatives of the call centre, its management and HR. One question I had for the representatives was, “What will help motivate people in the call centre to maintain a high standard of service until the transfer?” When preparing this question, I thought through a number of possible responses and discussed these with HR. What would be top of your list of likely responses? Salary increase? Bonuses? Their response surprised me: “We would like pot plants on each desk to make the centre brighter.” Naturally there were other requests, like help to find new jobs etc., but the plants were the first and there were no financial requests. I agreed to the pot plants and after the meeting, arranged for them to go to a shop to choose the plants. It cost us £75. By the time of the operational transfer, I was told...

Creative Leaders – Quickly Improve Team Performance [Yes! And Blog 124]

“Anyone got a Swiss Army Knife?”  Construction worker in a TV programme   This facilitator’s scaling tool can help your team improve performance very quickly…   I am on the way to the airport, stuck in traffic jams in snowy weather. To complete my joy, I have just received a text telling me that my flight home is cancelled and the next flight is in seven hours. So I thought I would do something enjoyable and write the blog in the back of the cab. Recently, I ran a facilitation master class, something I have run successfully many times for MBA students. I go into this class without a plan and have attendees write on Post It notes what they want to know about facilitation. I have two hours to provide and demonstrate all the answers. On this occasion, an attendee wrote that he wanted a multi purpose tool to help him facilitate meetings quickly. This article shares with you the tool I provided to the students. It is based on “Scaling”, a tool from Solutions Focus, a methodology I use a lot. To make it more real for you, imagine you are a creative leader working with a team (I used “facilitation” as the class topic).  Here are the steps that I put together on the spot from my experience: Ask them to consider what would be happening if they were performing really badly, the worst team in the organisation, world, wherever. Assign that description as “1” on a scale. Have them describe the benefits if they were performing brilliantly as a team.  Assign that description a “10”....

Make Innovating Simpler [Yes And Blog 150]

“As innovation becomes a management discipline there is a danger that it is seen as the end, rather than the means” John Brooker  Want to make innovating simple again? I was out riding my bike recently when I found I could not use any gear above number eight, so instead of twenty-four gears through three front cogs, I had just eight gears on one. I couldn’t fix it myself and didn’t have time to take it to the repairers so carried on using it. I am no Bradley Wiggins (Olympic cycling gold medallist and winner of  the Tour de France) and after a couple of rides, I noticed that the lack of gears was not causing me much of a problem, apart from going down steep hills where I could not pick up as much speed. After noticing that, I compared the enforced simplicity of my gearing with how complex innovation seems to have become. I appreciate there are some organisations that need more sophisticated approaches, just like the Tour de France needs more complex bikes. I am also sure most organisations could cope with a simpler approach. In fact, many could cope with just three “innovation gears” if they had the nerve to get on the “bike”. So In the spirit of keeping it simple, here is my three gear approach to help your people innovate. The three gears are, Climate, Model and Tools. Create and nurture the right climate to encourage collaboration When you wish people to be more collaborative and creative you need to create a macro-climate within the organisation and a micro-climate within meetings. Here...

Use Scaling As a Measurement Tool [Yes! And Blog 41]

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving; we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it; but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes JR. American Supreme Court Judge   Scaling is a simple but powerful tool that uses subtle questions to create a positive state and movement in people. The other day, I ran a two hour workshop on Solutions Focused Fund Raising for a group of school fund raisers at their conference in Manchester. On the train journey I wrote down my intention for the day. “To make the workshop as good as I can and something unexpected will arise from it.” Well, it certainly did! During the workshop, I introduced the group to the Solutions Focus method. This is an approach to change that concentrates on what is going well, clarifying the facts of a problem and then seeking solutions rather than analysing the causes of the problem. It is very motivating. The workshop ran really well, the whole room of people were in flow and the energy was amazing. As a final exercise I ran “Scaling”, asking, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how confident are you that you could reach your perfect fundraising future?” Scaling is a great technique that you can use anywhere in facilitation and coaching because it is very flexible and can produce powerful results. One way to run it is to have a group of people stand on a scale marked out on the floor and...

How Creative Facilitators Can Use Scaling to Measure [Yes! And Blog 165]

 How might you use scaling more creatively? Imagine you are a sheep. Your experience is limited to a gambol around fields but now you are in the back of a truck on a glorious autumn day, watching the world zip by at 50 miles per hour (80 KPH). As I overtake your truck on the motorway, the question I want to ask you (as a sheep) is, “On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is high, how surreal is this experience for you?” That question came to mind as I was driving back from Coventry recently, partly because my mind was in that engaged / disengaged state you have when driving and partly because I had been reflecting on a workshop I had participated in the previous day, at our SFCT UK meeting.  In the workshop I asked, “What ways can we use the Solution Focus (SF) scaling tool in workshops?” Scaling is a way to measure a variety of performance related items like motivation, confidence, understanding, progress, success, etc. Typically SF people use the 1 – 10 scale and I often use the tool with people standing in a line, from 1 – 10; I wanted to explore other ways to use it. Please see Blog 41 and Blog 124 for further explanation of SF and Scaling. With thanks to Jenny Clarke, John Wheeler, David Shaked and James Lawley for their contributions in the workshop. So With a small group of talented people, we elicited a number of interesting ways to scale, which I share here with you. Apart from the first two (me and Cyriel Kortleven),...