Monday, July 12, 2010

What is it that you are not seeing?

Many of you will be familiar with Scott Adams’ naive and downtrodden cartoon character Dilbert who sits in a small cubicle all day working for a tyrannical boss. If you have not seen Dilbert before then take a look at On last year’s calendar there was a scene where Dilbert and Dogbert were looking out over a panoramic scene. Dilbert said “wow look at that!” and Dogbert’s reply was “look at what?”.

There are times when we look at an issue with our colleagues and wonder why they cannot see the same things that we do. Have you ever been house hunting with someone who raves about the kitchen whilst you rave about the workshop or games room? This is much the same thing, we can all look at the same thing and see different facets or sometimes, like Dogbert, nothing at all.

Albert Einstein remarked that we are unable to solve problems in the same frame of reference in which they were created. So, to solve problems or make headway in a difficult business situation we need to re frame or change the way we look at things. These need not be dramatic changes. For instance:

  • This piece will not fit – try turning it through 90 degrees or maybe upside down
  • My customers are not buying the things I make – ask the question ‘Am I making the things that my customers want?’
  • Traffic lights – are they designed to stop accidents or manage traffic flow
  • I want to write upside down – do I need to design a pressurised pen or will a pencil do?
So try changing the way you look at the world and marvel at the increased opportunities.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Not creativity, but definitely creative

Those readers in the UK who have watched ITV's world cup coverage may have enjoyed the moving theme tune which is a special recording of When You Come Back by South African artist Vusi Mahlasela. Click below to see him play at the Live 8 concert or for a more powerful performance at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

Innovation – wrestling with Jelly

For those people who have yet to get to grips with using Creativity and Innovation to gain greater success in business here are a few things worth thinking about. For those of you that have, then you should look at these issues and feel proud that you have overcome them!

"Few great men would have got past personnel."  Paul Goodman

How true! Whether you think about one off characters such as Richard Branson and James Dyson or gangs of people that work for Google or Apple it is highly unlikely that your recruitment procedures would result in you recruiting these people. HR departments can get so fixated on employment law that they do not act to recruit and retain the best human capital for your business.

"Since we live in age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined."  Peter Drucker

Yet another issue to grapple with. We can have a stab at what the future holds (futures is a brilliant use for alternative thinking) but even without this, we do know the sorts of skills that our workers must have and the types of behaviours that they should exhibit. Our workforces should be matched to these criteria and be able to learn readily and tolerate a degree of ambiguity. But if things cannot be cast in stone, where does this leave unions and other representative bodies that might be resistant to change?

"The leaders say: "Let's be more innovative." The staff says: "Bravo. When do we start?" The mid-level managers say: "Wait a minute, let's think about that. What about… and …? Have you REALLY thought it through? Does this mean I have to change?""  Claude Legrand

This is where you will find either the greatest resistance or the greatest assistance. Sometimes layers of middle management are inserted for no good reason. They are dead wood and must be removed, but they can occupy a very important position. Whether your information tends to flow bottom up, top down or side to side this is where data, information and knowledge smash into each other and connections are made.

"People buy more weight loss books/diets (tools) than all other books, yet people are fatter than ever. Why? Most diets do not address the psychological reasons (mindset) for eating. The same holds true for innovation."  Stephen Shapiro

True again. Why do you or your business actually wish to innovate? Is it because it is the latest craze down at the Chamber of Commerce or are there good reasons for it such as flexibility sustainability, improved motivation etc. Are your aspirations as a management team aligned with those of your employees (and perhaps middle managers)?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Creativity – instructions not included

This article was inspired by a dialogue that I had with someone who commented on one of my blog posts. The post was about the resources that were required for Creativity. The person was looking for a definitive manual, a list of everything that they would need and the steps that they would need to go thorough. On reflection, my reply was probably less than helpful, but in a roundabout way I indicated that no such thing existed.

I still maintain that this is the case and if anyone tries to sell you such a manual then beware, however what they really needed was something to learn from, perhaps some case study material for a situation similar to theirs.

Putting together a creative system is a little like putting together flat pack furniture but without the instructions. If you have a reasonable skill level and knowledge of how such things are assembled then your furniture will grow out of the pile of pieces. If you are at the other end of the spectrum then you will be screaming for the instructions!

But what if the instructions do not exist, simply because every time the furniture is built by different people the result is different (but still a perfect piece of furniture)? What you need then are not instructions but an example of how the pieces fit together and a list of the tools required so that you can construct your unique item of furniture.

This is why we have components and tools to help you use creativity in business but the instructions are not included.