Use Telescoping to make sure good ideas don’t get shot down

How many times have we heard this: “It’s a good idea but…” – the dreaded killer phrase? We know them in every language. Someone is trying to diverge and another person cuts in right on top of him/her. The ideation session is now severely impeded, maybe even stopped in its tracks. People raise up their guards and pull back from offering any novel ideas knowing they will get shot down. Sound familiar?

Divergence is critical to successful ideation but being skilled at convergence is also important and critical – we must not mix them together. The ability to defer judgment is a fundamental skill.

Read More

The biggest problem we have is “communication”

How many of you have been in a situation where people say, our biggest problem here is communication.  What does that mean?  Does it mean the phones don’t work?  Does it mean we don’t speak each other’s language? People in other departments don’t care what people are doing?  Senior management does not pass down clear information?  People send unclear email messages – we don’t know the goals?  We don’t trust each other?  That’s because words like ‘communication’ are fuzzy and vague – they mean too many things to too many people.

Read More

How might we deliberately adapt to stay ahead in an ever-changing world?

Research shows that effective organizations display two characteristics simultaneously: efficiency and adaptability. The efficient organization follows well-structured, stable routines to deliver its products or services in large quantities with high quality at low cost. In a stable world, efficient organizations may be successful. But in a changing world, organizations also need adaptability. While efficiency implies mastering routines, adaptability means mastering the process of deliberately changing routines.

Adaptability is a proactive process: it allows the organization to deliberately and continually change and create. It entails deliberate discontent — discovering new needs to be met and problems to be solved, finding new things to be done, and adopting new technologies and methods before the competition. Adaptability is disruptive. It requires looking outside the organization for new opportunities, problems, trends, technologies and methods that may dramatically improve or change routines or introduce completely new products and services. Adaptable organizations anticipate customer problems and develop timely solutions. They deliberately and continually change how they do things to improve quality, raise quantities, reduce costs and stay ahead of competitors.

Organizations that build concrete strategies allowing them to confidently and capably shift the balance between adaptability and efficiency will be well positioned to adapt and prosper in volatile economic times, such as today’s environment. And while the results of emphasizing adaptability may take longer to appear than the results of an emphasis on efficiency, the long-term success of the strategy can be found by looking at Japan; While decision-making in many organizations in North America is driven by the next quarter’s results, Japanese organizations tend to favor long-term planning and reporting.

With so many implementers in the world, why do so many action plans not get done?

Implementing as part of your job or routine is very different from implementing something that is new and unusual. Many of the implementers in the world are implementing routine things.   Many of those people are doing implementation jobs and so they go off and do them and they get a good pat on the back for doing them. That’s totally different from implementing something new. It’s way more awkward to implement something new so you’ve got build skills of implementing something new which is very different from implementing something routine.

Read More

Where do teams struggle the most with action planning?

One area we see most often is leadership. The leader as a facilitator makes things easy for people, he knows the process, leads them through. A good leader is going to make sure the action plan happens when many people might be looking at their watches and want to go.   In all sessions, it’s imperative to leave enough time for action planning. If you have a two-hour meeting, make sure you put in about a half an hour for action planning – don’t leave it for the last 10 minutes!

Read More

Moving beyond product innovation

Business challenges do involve product and service design. However, often there are much bigger organizational challenges at play preventing an organization from reaching its potential. These challenges incorporate processes, business models and organizational design. Innovation is not focused on hi-tech or products or services. Any challenge you’ve got – we can’t do this, we can’t do that, our business model is not working – whatever it is you need to have people who want to make change – you need a great change making process. We really dislike the term managing change, managing change means we are going to make change whether people like it or not. We’re going to shove it down their throats. Adaptability is the name of the game and adaptability means we’re driving change.

Read More

Can the owner of the problem participate in workshops?

YES – the owner is your key person. The owner knows more about the problem than anybody else. If you don’t have an owner don’t do the session. It all revolves around the owner – all we’re trying to do is help. This person(s) knows everything and a good owner is one who is going to be very forthcoming –  he/she will not only answer questions, they often give even more information that nobody asked for, so the owner is critical. The only thing the owner can’t do – lead the session.  An owner cannot lead the session – these two roles must be separate.

Read More