33 Improvise to Innovate and Transform

by | Feb 2, 2012 | Facilitate meetings, Innovate

 YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 33 Company policy and procedures are fine, but sometimes there is a need to improvise .   “I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.” Wilhelm von Humboldt, German Statesman   Do you or your organisation cope well with unexpected events or are you held back by inflexible policies? Imagine you went online to cancel a full cost airline ticket you had purchased. Due to a software error on the site you were unable to cancel it. On contacting the company’s call centre you were told that you would have to pay a £15 surcharge for cancelling by telephone. That happened to me this week. I suggested perhaps they could use some initiative and discount the charge as they were aware of the problem. No, the charge was company policy. I felt my blood pressure rising faster than an empty 747 as my mental “stall warning” kicked in. As the word implies, many organisations value the ability to organise. A great deal of effort and training goes in to developing and using policies, processes and procedures (organisational “scripts”), to ensure consistency of performance and to attempt to exert control over events. However, reliance on these methods assumes that the organisation’s internal and external environment will remain reasonably stable. For good or bad, unpredictable events happen and those organisational “scripts” can fail. It’s at this point that people need to be capable of improvisation, be they an operator or a manager. Not at the...

32 Innovate whatever your age

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 32 You’re never too old to innovate, but age is a great excuse to stick your head in the sand.   “I never feel age…If you have creative work, you don’t have age or time” Louise Nevelson (Sculptress, aged 80) Are you writing off yourself or others as too old to innovate? I was facilitating a workshop recently when the discussion moved to innovation. One opinion was that “Most of us (“us” as in the people in the room) are too old to make this an innovative company; we need to bring in young managers at senior level.” As a facilitator, I do not involve myself in the content but when the point was raised I wanted to whisper “NO!” You might understand why people think innovation is for the young. People over forty…they’ve more important things to think about than younger workers… they’re set in their ways… the young have plenty of energy and more time to pursue new things… innovation needs young minds…only the young can understand these new gadgets…the young sense the new trends first… I can understand why people think it, but I don’t agree with it. The sceptic in me believes that “Sorry, I’m fifty, I’m too old for innovation” means: “I’ve never done innovation and now I’m fifty I can blame it on my age” This could be a light hearted pub conversation but in reality is very important. We have a rapidly aging population in the West. Our average age in the UK is 39. In the US it is 36 and in India, 25. [Source:...

30 Break Down Silos

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla  # 30 Organisations are in danger of becoming more insular and as creative leaders, you need to start breaking down these barriers…   “We are becoming strangers to each other, leaving communities to be marooned outside the mainstream…communities of different ethnicity and religion eyeing each other over the fences of our differences” Trevor Phillips ~ Head of the Commission for Racial Equality (UK) What are you doing to “break down the silos” in your organisation? In August, I travelled long haul on BA Business Class to run a course. As the flight was quite empty and there was no food to serve (due to a strike), I chatted to the stewardess. We had an interesting chat for about half an hour. Afterwards, it struck me that apart from a few pleasantries, I hadn’t spoken much to a member of the flight crew in a long time. It’s also been a while since I have spoken to another passenger on a long haul flight. The reason for this is that BA Business Class has seats that sit at 180 degrees to each other. To provide privacy, they have dividers between the seats – you could sit next to your mother and never know. In some circumstances that might save you from the crashing bore, but meeting others can create the germ of a new idea. So Could this be a metaphor for organisations? Despite open plan offices and matrix management I can think of three workshops I have run in the last year in which one of the issues was people working in silos or...

29 Think fluently to innovate

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla #29 Creative thinking is not just about using the right side of the brain. You need to use the whole brain in a fluent way.    “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” Joni Mitchell ~ Lyrics from “Both Sides Now” Do you think fluently? Driving to Pevensey in Sussex, (close to where the Normans invaded England), I played over in my mind thoughts about a course design. Arriving on a cold but sunny Pevensey beach I found myself pointing at the blue sky, using the fluffy cumulus clouds as virtual “Post It” notes to construct my course. With startling clarity I “saw” the course, murmuring “Creative Solution Finding there, creative styles there, Solution Focus at that end…” Onlookers would have seen a lunatic waving his arms at the sky but my children provided the perfect excuse for lunacy. And my impromptu “cloud mapping” worked well, allowing me to dictate the course outline on to my tape recorder. A silver lining indeed. I am not suggesting “cloud mapping” as a new technique (though wouldn’t you love to have “Post It” clouds to move on the beach) but you could give it a try (in a very isolated spot). On the drive home, my impromptu use of clouds prompted me to think about what constitutes a “creative” technique. Logically it is one that nurtures creative thinking. Books on creativity contain scores of creative techniques, including mapping. Some help analyse or structure our thinking on a situation. Some prioritise ideas. Others help us to plan implementation. Is that creative thinking? You could argue it...

28 Play With Ideas to Innovate More…

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 28 The search for a solution should be as much fun as finding it… “The Palaeolithic hunters who painted the unsurpassed animal murals on the ceiling of the cave at Altamira had only rudimentary tools. Art is older than production for use, and play older than work. Man was shaped less by what he had to do than by what he did in playful moments. It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities.” Eric Hoffer Do you allow yourself and your team the opportunity to enjoy tackling challenges as much as finding the solution?    On our recent holiday in a game reserve we went in search of a leopard. We drove for miles in an open top Land Rover, knowing there was a leopard around but not knowing quite where. We didn’t find it, but we had a great time looking! It struck me as we drove around that we spend a lot of time tackling challenges in our work. Finding the solution is rewarding, but we spend a lot more time searching than finding, so wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy the “hunt” too? This relates to “Value Play”, one of the twelve precepts (or principles) for fostering creativity in an organisation that John Martin writes about in the Open University course on Creativity, Innovation and Change (click for further details of the course). “Value play” means (in my words) to allow yourself and others to be childlike (not...

26 Creative Gorilla Meditate to Innovate

YES! AND… Facilitate, Innovate, Transform By meditating you can make yourself more creative and innovative.   “I am very busy today; I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Mahatma Gandhi Do you ever get days when you are frayed at the edges? Imagine the dodgem cars at a fairground. Cars are flying around in different directions; some hit each other head on, some sideways, some from the rear. They all bounce as they collide, narrowly missed by the crafty “bravehearts” cruising round the outside. I’m not sure the above descriptions make much sense in some countries but imagine the cars are the neurons in your brain on a hectic day. There is so much information assaulting your senses you can barely think, let alone be creative. Have you ever considered meditation? Lying in yet another hotel bed at four a.m. local time, my brain is a kaleidoscope of information, images running through my mind…if this were a TV script I’d probably say something like “cue dream sequence”… I see the embarrassment of going for a quick rest break and leaving my lapel microphone on for the delegates to hear…walking in to the ladies changing room in the swimming pool because I didn’t understand the Russian sign (making apologetic sign language as I backed out!)…the dull thud in my head of the two beers I had before bed… At times like this I find it helpful to meditate. I sat up, meditated for thirty minutes and slowly the dodgem cars began to form an orderly queue around the rink with “careful driver” awards for all. So It is...