44 Change Your Mindset…

by | Feb 13, 2012 | Facilitate meetings, Innovate

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 44 Mindset can be a major obstacle to successfully tackling challenges… “Professor Douglas Hartree told me that, in his opinion, all the calculations that would ever be needed in Britain could be done on the three digital computers which were then (1951) being built.” Lord Bowden   Is your mindset an obstacle to finding solutions? Imagine this. It’s 6.00 a.m. in a small hotel. You’re creeping down the back stairs to go for a run (OK that’s probably fused your imagination circuits). Half way down, you stumble over a young guy sitting on the stairs in his underpants. He looks at you but doesn’t say anything. You look at him and think “he must have just got back from a run and is cooling down.” You nod at each other in that polite British way and you head off for your run. Yes. That was me last week in Lincoln. Never mind that he was in his underpants (making the assumption they were his) and was otherwise naked, I thought he’d just got back from a run. Thirty minutes later I returned and “Underpants Man” was still there. We looked at each other. He didn’t speak. I asked if anything was wrong. “I’m locked out of my room,” he replied sheepishly. At that point I feel a bit stupid that I hadn’t thought this earlier. I tried to contact hotel staff at the locked reception via intercom (no response) and by telephone, getting no answer. I suggested “Underpants Man” might sit in my room but he refused (was that a look of panic on his face?),...

43 Become a Creative Leader …

 YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 43 Creative people tend to have certain traits or characteristics. You can seek to emulate these… “This led me to reflect on the pictures (from a Camera Obscura). It was during these thoughts that the idea occurred to me…how charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed upon the paper! And why should it not be possible I asked myself?”  William Henry Fox Talbot (inventor of modern photography) Please click here for link. Can you develop the characteristics of a creative person?  This week we had a few days on a farm in Wiltshire and visited Lacock Abbey. My children were keen to see the cloisters where several Harry Potter scenes were filmed and I spent some time looking at the Fox-Talbot Museum of Photography. Fox-Talbot invented the positive / negative photographic system in 1840 at Lacock Abbey, his family home.  Here we have a wealthy Member of Parliament, an eminent mathematician, a translator of ancient texts with a keen interest in physics and other sciences. He had so many abilities but could not draw. Thus he found himself on honeymoon in 1835, on Lake Como in Italy, experimenting, as you do on honeymoon, using tracing paper with a portable Camera Obscura to draw pictures. [Please click here to understand the Camera Obscura]. This led to him recording the quotation above in his journal. His invention arose due to developments in two areas of science in which Fox Talbot was interested: Optics, which led to the portable Camera Obscura and Photochemistry, in which...

42 Use technology to innovate…

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 42 New technology can help you to expand how you gain information to spot opportunities or issues. “For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.” Alice Kahn Are you making the most of new technology? Yesterday, I ran with my friend, Elvin Box, a study day for Open University MBA students preparing for their Creativity and Innovation exam. Elvin was explaining about companies who innovate because they are pushed (e.g. by falling profits or increased competition) or because they are pulled (i.e they are attracted to innovation because they see it as a way to drive more profit or stay ahead of the competition or because it makes life more interesting). It arose that one way to be a “pulled” company is to have a structured programme of searching for new ideas. That set me thinking. An easy method to obtain new ideas is to receive a regular e-mail from Springwise (www.springwise.com), which keeps you in touch with new business innovations around the world. A recent story was about Lewisham Council in London who have set up a web site (please click here) where local residents can upload photographs of graffiti, dumped litter and other anti social incidents they spot in the town. They upload photographs using software they download from the site and can identify the location. The Council staff then arrange for the removal of the offending item from the streets of Lewisham. This is great for the upstanding citizens of Lewisham (although you wonder if graffiti artists see it as an opportunity to get their...

40 Create Better Solutions…

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 40 Involve people in exploring the problem as well as generating the solution. It is a much more effective way to tackle challenges…   “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advised”  Gore Vidal ~ Artist Do you find people are reluctant to help you find or implement solutions? A colleague and I were running a pilot course on flexible thinking and communication recently. The client’s people, at times, have to take high risk decisions (i.e. someone might die if they get them wrong). During our pre-course investigations, a member of staff revealed one paradigm in the organisation: that our course was unnecessary because when it mattered, people were just told what to do. No need for creative thinking there. It was a valid point and caused us to reevaluate how we could position the course in the context of the organisation. With a bit of thought we developed a preliminary model with high and low “risk” and less and more “time” on two axes, making our best assessment of where flexible thinking and communication fitted. The model was unfinished and fuzzy. Rather than develop it further, we presented our 2 x 2 matrix as a problem to be explored during the pilot course and asked the delegates to consider it in the context of their organisation. Wow! What I thought would be a 5 minute conversation turned into 30 minutes of really fruitful discussion. We finished with an enhanced model, placing the course firmly in context and justifying the...

37 Check Assumptions

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 37 Check your assumptions if you want to avoid mistakes… “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.” Orville Wright Are you checking your assumptions sufficiently? It’s likely you make assumptions all the time, consciously or unconsciously. After all, you have to assume when you leave the house a meteorite won’t hit you on the head – otherwise you wouldn’t leave. I was reminded of assumptions at lunch the other day. Chatting to a German student who grew up in Berlin, I mentioned that I had been back there a couple of times since the wall came down, but the city no longer had the frisson of excitement present when I lived there in the seventies – when people imagined that Russian tanks might rumble down the Kurfustendamm tomorrow. There was a momentary pause in the conversation, which puzzled me until I realised later that he had grown up in the Russian zone of Berlin. I made the wrong assumption and once again my foot had an unexpected visit to my mouth. The positive result was that it made me think about the assumptions we make all the time. It appears to me that when tackling challenges there are two types of assumption: The “liberating assumption” – that which frees us to move forward, e.g. “people will read this article” The “blocking assumption” – that which stops us moving forward e.g. “we will never get the resources for this”. So When exploring situations, the creative leader should...

35 Balance Risk and Innovation

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 35 Balance the need to avoid risk with the need to innovate…   “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”  Colin Powell ~ US politician…   Is your organisation successfully balancing its need to control risk with its need to innovate?  Today, I went to church to see my son give his first public reading, prior to lighting the first Advent candle. Andrew read very well and following his reading, the priest, Father Robert gave a sermon. He spoke of people striving for perfection at Christmas and being mightily stressed by it. He reminded us that the pleasure comes not from the perfect turkey but from the social event of the meal. This sparked off a train of thought that led me to Google, (think of a search engine in reverse). Recently, a client with a group of his executives, kindly invited me on a tour of Google’s HQ near San Francisco. For someone like me, seeking examples of how organisations drive fluent thinking in to organisations, this was a dream place to visit. The Google trip showed many practical examples of how the organisation makes its environment one in which people are encouraged to relax, think and achieve. One example (which the sermon probably triggered) is the free food and drink of all types served in the cafeteria, incentivising people to stay on campus and encouraging them to talk. Our guide told us most business ideas have arisen from discussion over lunch; one way to feed innovation. Another interesting example was the pride...