Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘organizational development’

One of the most useful insights I gained in my studies of creativity and facilitation training was a model of group dynamics that says all groups go through the same four phases: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Now, different groups may linger longer in one phase or another. And, it’s not always linear; that is to say you might go from Storming to Norming to Performing and then back to Storming. Some groups—and we’ve all been in them—actually abort before ever getting to the Performing phase.

This insight has helped me better cope within any group, of which I’ve been a part. It allows me to not be so discomforted by my confusion during my group’s Forming phase. I’m not as dispirited by the bickering that may occur in the Storming phase. I don’t get quite as bored by the Norming phase. And because I have a name for it, I become exhilarated in the Performing phase.

The mindfulness of these phases gives me both hope and direction to get through any rough patches my group might experience. It gives me clues for how to move on. For example, I make sure there is plenty of time for the Clarifiers in the Forming phase. The sooner they use their clarifying questions to help the group understand why it’s there, the faster the group can move onto the next phase.

A Storming phase might suggest time needed to examine the facts and sort out those assumptions masquerading as fact. It might suggest a listening exercise to make sure everyone heard what was said and understands what was meant (not always the same thing). Then make sure everyone agrees on the implications.

A Norming phase, where structure has been established and participants know the group rules, will often cry out for some divergent exercises to help people accelerate their thinking in new and innovative areas.

A team in the Performing phase needs to be vigilant in maintaining its creative culture. It requires the resources to sustain its efforts. And it should take a breath every now and then to celebrate the magic.

Back on January 21st of this year, I wrote about George Land’s Transformational Theory, in which he posits that every living organism (he would include a group as a living organism) travels the S-curve as complexity grows over time. That theory is consistent with the four-phase construct I just described: the bottom dip of the “S” representing the Forming and Storming phases; the first break point representing the Norming phase; and the Performing phase represented by the ascent up the S-curve. (click for more on the  Transformation Theory)

The S-curve also includes a fifth phase, which may take the form of either starting a new S-curve for new growth, or becoming obsolete and going away. The professor who taught me the four phases of group dynamics included a fifth phase for that construct, which she called Adjourning.

I believe this “add-on” phase is so important that I will stop here and discuss Adjourning in my next post.

In the meantime, if you have other insights to add about group dynamics, I would appreciate learning from you.

Read Full Post »

Who doesn’t want to be the expert? It means you know all the answers, earns you respect, moves you up the organization chart, increases your demand and makes you more money.

It doesn’t necessarily make you a good innovator, though.

In fact, an expert’s very identity is based on knowing the answers. Experts draw upon their years of experience. They seek out and promote best practices. They use their creativity to adapt and improve within the existing paradigm. They reduce risk and minimize change.

Experts are extremely valuable—until an innovative competitor creates a new product or service, making yours obsolete.

So how do innovators do it? An innovator’s mantra is don’t let what you already know get in the way of what is possible. Innovators aren’t ruled by the rules. Assumptions can’t masquerade as fact. Innovators look at the status quo with fresh eyes, imagine an ideal new reality and create a plan to get there. They accept some risk in order to change the game.

Here are a couple of exercises to engage your innovative thinking:

  • Ask, what would you love to see happen for your business if there were no obstacles in your way? What would your clients or customers love to see happen with your business if there were no obstacles in your way?
  • Once you know where you could go, try looking at your work through fresh eyes. Journal about every detail of your product or service as if you are an alien. Take photos like you’re a tourist. Collect materials like you are an anthropologist. Use your fresh eyes observations to bubble up new insights that might drive innovation.
  • Brainstorm everything you “know” about as many aspects of your business as you can. What has to happen for you to be successful? What do your customers expect from you? What processes are required? Who are your allies and who is your competition?
  • Then ask, if this weren’t true, then what could we do?

But then, I’m no expert. What ideas do you have for driving innovation?

Read Full Post »

There are many people who I admire—smart, funny, talented, generous people. Then there are people who align those winning traits with a strong set of moral values and act to create something brilliant. These people inspire me.

And, I’m a bit surprised to say that social media is the reason I come to write about this topic.

I began to see the power of social media to enable such inspiration when my nephew Elliot posted on Facebook that he had a birthday coming up, and if anyone was planning on giving him a gift, he would love for that gift be a donation to a charity he chose. He suggested an amount, a dollar for every year he had lived, but was grateful for any amount. He set a modest goal, which he blew past immediately. He announced a new goal. Then another. Then another. He must be a popular guy with people who like to exceed goals because he raised a lot of money from people who never intended to buy him a birthday present. Brilliant. Elliot blogs at http://goodworkpeople.com.

Another example first came to me in the form of a viral video called The Money Tree. It showed what happens when you tape 100 $1-bills to a tree on a busy city sidewalk, each bill with a life-affirming note to take one. It’s beautiful. Check it out at http://www.­boingboing.­net/­2010/­09/­08/­what-­happens-­when-­yo-­3.­html.

This is the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She blogs at WBEZ in Chicago. http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mission-amy-kr and is a brilliant filmmaker and writer who inspires “connection, reflection, and creativity.” She has a mission for her followers (of which I’m one) every week. Often she asks for participation from her followers (sadly, I’ve yet to participate) from which she makes beautiful art. For the last three years (8/8/08, 9/9/09, 10/10/10) she’s invited anyone and everyone to meet her at the Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park for an evening of “missions.” If you like life celebrations, check out her films chronicling these moving experiences.

A third example, I just found out about yesterday. Carlo Garcia has a site called Living Philanthropic: livingphilanthropic.tumblr.com. He has committed to contributing to and featuring a non-profit organization on his blog and through his tweets every day for a year, hoping that his followers will respond to the cause and also donate. I’m sorry I didn’t find him until day 314 when he featured Changing World’s, one of my clients. So far, Carlo has donated $3,753 to his featured organizations and his followers have reported donating another $9,915. Another brilliant idea.

Elliot, I know. I don’t know Amy or Carlo. Yet I have a pretty good idea of who they are. They inspire me, and perhaps elicit a bit of jealousy. But I’m glad they’re here. They give me a compelling reason to participate in social media rather than merely curse it as another distraction.

I also know, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have other examples like this, I would appreciate knowing about them. I would like to spread the brilliance. If you are inspired by Elliot, Amy or Carlo, spread their brilliance. These are the lights that need to shine.

Read Full Post »

I just finished serving on a jury—this, my first time even called for jury duty. And like with all new experiences, when finished, I reflected on what I learned.

Now, without getting into the details of the case, it’s safe to say it was a fairly ordinary offense. In fact, many of the jurors (myself included) admitted in deliberation that they weren’t sure why such an offense would ever come to trial. It seemed routine. Cut and dry.

The prosecuting attorney went about his argument as if it were cut and dry. A morning of building the credibility of the arresting officer. Confirming the due process. He even showed us a video that he felt proved guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Then, in the afternoon, the defense attorney provided context to the morning session, giving the jury an informed perspective on the credibility of the arresting officer. He provided context for understanding due process and where deviations might have occurred. He provided context for looking at the video.

And while the prosecutor never really recovered from his inability to provide general context, he would have been alright except for his failure to provide context for the one specific piece of irrefutable evidence. Nor did the defense attorney provide us context for that piece of evidence. And the State made it even tougher when it asked us to use this piece of evidence to rule on two different charges. So we, as a jury, were left to make up our own context, right or wrong, for that piece of evidence. Our deliberations on this routine offense spilled into a second day because each of us had different life experiences, sensibilities and interpretations of the instructions, causing us to create different contexts from which to interpret the content of the evidence.

In the end, the prosecution and defense attorneys did the system an injustice by not providing full and proper context for their arguments. They told us “What happened” but often failed to tell us “So what that means is…” Or, “why this is important is…”

The lesson is a stunning reminder that while content might be king, it easily becomes pauper without appropriate context. I’m reminded that in all of my communications, I must help my audiences understand why my content is important and what they can do with it. In other words, provide the appropriate context.

On a side note, I got to spend time deliberating with a very tall ex-NBA basketball player. I’m sure had there been an inter-jury basketball tournament, we would have won it going away.

Read Full Post »

What's the secret of life? Just one thing.

Recently, I was invited to be a guest instructor for a graduate class in public administration at DePaul University. I was asked to talk about how I integrate deliberate creativity into the strategic planning process. As part of my lesson plan, I included time for each student to develop a personal strategic plan. I started with having each of them develop a personal mission statement to help shine a light on the goals, strategies, initiatives and work plans of their strategic plan. If you haven’t done this for yourself, I highly recommend it. But be warned, it’s not easy and it will likely evolve as you go through multiple iterations. If you have done it, I would love to hear about your process and result. I come at it from a couple of directions. I use one of Jim Collin’s Hedgehog principles from his book Good to Great. He asks, what do you do better than any organization (person) on the planet? A daunting question, but one that can provide laser focus. I also ask, what gift do I leave after I’m finished with a project? This is above and beyond a benefit. A gift is something you give without being asked. It’s the value you add that makes you that best person on the face of the planet. Once I have answers for that, I ask, how do I do it? To say these are difficult questions is an understatement. But if you can answer them—if you can fight through the temptation to accept the easy way out and decide you’re not best at anything, or you leave no gift—then you will arrive at a personal mission that will center you, guide you and give you a strong personal identity. Last week, I watched the movie City Slickers for the umpteenth time, and was reminded of the importance of having a personal mission by Curly’s enigmatic philosophy: The secret of life is just ONE thing. For the record, here’s my personal mission: To use my facilitation, training and communications skills to help others ignite their own creativity in order to reach their potential. What’s your one thing?

Read Full Post »

For those of you who have worked with me, you know that I often begin a conversation about a project or initiative by asking, It would be great if what happens? Then I might ask Why would that be great? And, what else would be great?

What I’m really asking is for you to take a moment, ignoring all the obstacles and barriers that might be in your way, and tell me about the best outcome you can imagine. Then tell me why that outcome is important to you. For most, this is an energizing exercise. It’s fun to imagine all the good things that might happen. Here’s what else it does:

  • It forces you to think about and articulate higher level aspirations that might have been, at best, only fuzzy thoughts in the recesses of your mind.
  • Merely articulating your aspirations makes them seem possible, softening a beachhead of obstacles that might be looming.
  • Knowing all the ways in which you might benefit drives a deeper, more sustainable commitment to realizing those aspirations.

Of course, it also enables me to understand my client’s, colleague’s or other stakeholder’s goals on a deeper, more personal level, so that I can better align my work to help achieve those goals. And if the waters get a bit choppy along the way, I can often calm them by reminding everyone of the ultimate goal and why we want to get there.

Try it. Ask your client or colleague what they would love to see happen. It would be great if what…? Why would that be great? And what else would be great? See if you don’t both walk away with clearer, more compelling goals.

Do this and you’ll be better positioned to ask the next question: What’s stopping you?

Read Full Post »

Last weekend, I attended a Gala for Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. I couldn’t have been more inspired.

I know this organization intimately, having facilitated the staff and board through our strategic planning process, and then worked with the Reputation Committee to renew its brand strategy.

CYSO has long been a world-class youth orchestra, training the area’s best young musicians. Historically, it focused on performance and education. In revisiting the brand, the Reputation Committee discovered that at the intersection of performance excellence and personal growth is the element of inspiration.

This “inspiration” has become the brand driver, changing the way the organization communicates to its publics. CYSO began telling inspirational stories about the young musicians, the composers and compositions, and the venues in which it plays—compelling stories that give us even more reasons to appreciate and care about the music.

On Saturday evening, they took it to the next level in their concert, ¡Viva la Música! On the last number of an evening filled with beautiful Spanish compositions, the orchestra surprised everyone when it began swaying in unison to the lively score it was playing. Suddenly, orchestra members began randomly popping up and down to the music, giving the impression of a large wind-up toy. So unlike your typical Symphony Orchestra. So fun for the student musicians. And inspiring the audience to a whistling, hooting robust standing ovation.

This is an organization that embraces its brand.

To learn more about and support this fine organization, visit http://www.cyso.org. And check out the video we made to capture the magic of the CYSO.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »