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.
What too often happens is that good implementers say, “we know how to implement we’re just going to wing it”. So they go in and they wing this new idea and run into all kinds of unforeseen challenges. They often haven’t considered the other person, the person who’s going to take the risk. If you go into your boss and you’re going to ask him to a give you the money or help you do it on something brand new and he doesn’t know any thing about it, you just made this person really worried. You have to do a very good job of knowing what you are going to tell this person to alleviate the major concerns. The other one is that many people make other plans to implement and they just get busy with other stuff and it gets left on the shelf. We go back to implementing what we like to do versus implementing the very hard stuff – a totally different thing that requires creativity.
We talk about a “wheel within a wheel”. When you’re talking about new ideas if you look at that implementer quadrant, you put a Simplexity wheel in there and it becomes, how might we be very creative on winning acceptance and getting things done? Here is where the creativity is needed – you can’t just walk in and go do it. People are not used to doing that. They’re used to “winging it” and too often don’t see the merits of a careful action plan. “Yeah, we can do that – we do that all the time.” Well they don’t – they think they do – they don’t implement new things.
Do you change the participants? Does the methodology change when you have a constraint like a participant time crunch? Is the methodology always applied the same way for all types of problems?
As a facilitator, you take what you are given but often if you’ve got a chance to bulk up the team at the beginning, you might try to get a mix of styles. However, don’t forget, these styles are preferences not skills and a very good facilitator is someone who will take what’s there and move the group through the process. By involving people early in doing the profile to build their understanding, they get the idea that we’re supposed to be moving around the wheel, no matter whether we’re this or we’re that. Furthermore, we are going to work together to make it work knowing these are “states” not “traits” and you make it happen. If you only have a small amount of time you might find out that your team is heavy in one style versus another so you might, if you only have four hours, spend an hour on the part they they prefer to do like implementation and spend three hours on part they least prefer so you can you can make things happen your own way. By engaging the team, they will help you make it work because they understand the process.
The method does not change regardless of the problem. But you might have to “flex” the process depending on the particulars of a problem. The process remains absolutely the same, but how you make it work, how you flex it depends on the situation you’re in. You invent new tools if you have to but the process itself and all the phases remain the same. Always trust the process so the process is going to work for you. This is exactly what we teach and focus on in our Professional Innovation Advisor (PIA) program.
First of all there are two big things – one – it is fun – people love to find out something about themselves and find out that their way of solving problems is just as good as anybody else’s way. Nobody’s a genius when it comes to creativity and we all need each other.
Second, it helps to quickly introduce this crazy thing called a process. Most people in the world are not at all process oriented they are content oriented. They are all over on the implementation side so the idea that you could use a process to help you navigate your way through a complex thing like developing a new product or solving a problem makes it easy. That’s a brand new idea for most people. They are most used to thinking it’s a bolt from the blue or whatever and so now they understand there is a process – it gives you the navigator carte blanche to lead them through the process so if they’re jumping from here to there and everywhere it’s perfect for you to say are we jumping from “one-to-eight” here or “one-to-seven”. Knowing where we are in the process, using visual tools in each step, allows people to buy-in and stay the course. This becomes a language of innovation – they can ask each other “wait a second now are we optimizing” or “I thought we were still fact-finding”. “We can talk about that and we have one of our colleagues who is a great facilitator.” The idea is just because you are, let’s say, a quadrant 2 (conceptualizer), doesn’t mean that you can’t do quadrant 4 (implementer) work and vice versa – these are temporary states and they can move fluidly. We have a good colleague who gets his participants to all chant “states not traits, states not traits, states not traits” knowing that people will flow through, stay patient, buy-in to each step because they know there is a process to go through.
Would any automobile company try to build a new car without an assembly line? Just dump the parts on the factory floor and say “go to it” to the workers? Of course not. We all know that the assembly line is a necessary part of building a car that actually works.
When you think of it, the assembly line is simply a process, one that people follow to synchronize their efforts with others. Unfortunately, many organizations try to do too many things without a process.
For example, they hold meetings. Meetings are scheduled so people can use their knowledge to accomplish pretty complicated things, including:
• solve problems,
• make decisions,
• create policy,
• manage projects,
• plan strategy, and
• innovate products and procedures.
But these meetings are held without a process. Members are unable to synchronize their thinking! Such meetings end up messy and frustrating, often without results. The individual members are trying hard, but all are thinking differently at the same time, getting in each other’s way. Here are the different thoughts people might be experiencing simultaneously:
• “What a waste of time. I could fix this in a minute.”
• “I’m not sure what we are doing. My boss told me to sit in at the last minute.”
• “We need to drill down to the root cause, no matter how long it takes.”
• “I am not budging until we define what problem we are trying to solve.”
• “We need to evaluate our options and pick the best.”
• “There are a ton of problems more important than this one.”
• “Glad I went to that creativity seminar last week .The wilder my ideas, the better!”
• “I am going to play devil’s advocate on everything I hear.”
• “I wonder how we are going to pay for all of this.”
• “I know exactly what steps to take right after the meeting.”
No wonder we have a mess. Everyone is all over the map. There is no process to follow. How could we possibly expect to achieve innovative results in meetings without synchronizing our thinking?
This week’s Minsight: How might we use a consistent thinking process to synchronize everyone’s inputs and efficiently tackle a problem? The better we follow the process, the better the result.
“Dear Min –Tonight I shared a presentation on your process and a question came up about a team with a dominating personality. How might I encourage the rest of the group and keep the dominator from scaring off the others?” Thanks, Alice
Alice: The key is setting the “ground rules” at the very beginning. If the participants understand the rules, they will actually help you navigate through the process. The group’s success depends on their skills of divergence, convergence, deferring judgment, avoiding killer phrases and following the process. Introducing the ground rules (especially if you do it in a fun way) will help set a good tone and allow the group to collectively manage members who are stepping out of line. Typically, no one wants to be seen as a bad actor once the rules about bad acting are established.
Tools like the thought catchers, posters and tent cards are very helpful in keeping the group dynamics fun. Remind enthusiastic participants to “hold that thought…use your thought catcher,” if they are eager to leap into the conversation ahead of – or more loudly than – less exuberant team members.
Try having the participants complete the Online CPSP (the Profile) before the workshop. Engaging the team in discussing their different problem solving styles can work wonders in making the process flow smoothly.
This week’s Minsight:
Every session we facilitate may not be perfect at the beginning; they rarely are. But they will be increasingly valuable as long as we follow the process and use the skills the best we can. Next time you facilitate, choose the ground rules that will best work for you. Feel like chiming in? What ground rules have you used?
We live and work in an era of rapidly accelerating change with frequent upheavals and interruptions. Everywhere we look, traditional structures are abruptly being reshaped or falling down. Many organizations that prospered during more stable times – times that rewarded routinized efficiency – now find themselves poorly adapted to today’s new economic and social realities.
Once successful companies are finding that their sure-hit formulas no longer work. Long revered icons of organizational excellence have been humbled, and even bailed out of bankruptcy and imminent demise by government intervention. Individuals, families and entire communities are finding the world shifting beneath their feet as traditional markets, industries, societal structures, and sources of employment disappear under the impact of new information technologies, global competition, lack of regulation of financial institutions, uncertainty about global warming, transitioning to new energy sources, and a restructuring of the world economy.
It is not surprising that organizations whose main virtues during previous times were predictability and reliability should find it difficult to adapt to this increasingly dynamic environment. Their employees, too, are struggling to deal with these changing times as the vast scale of change has resulted in an unprecedented need for information processing and problem solving skills. But within the scope of the challenge lies a great opportunity for the future prosperity of organizations everywhere.
Taking advantage of economic uncertainty and turbulence requires a corporate mindset eager to embrace change and innovation, and determined to benefit from it. By making a deliberate choice to incorporate an innovation process into everyday work at all levels and across all disciplines, organizations can achieve sustained competitive advantage, positive people outcomes organizations can achieve sustained competitive advantage, positive people outcomes, a “how might we?” attitude, and an inevitable change to a more innovative culture.
Here’s the scenario: Following a conference or workshop, you return to your office brimming with enthusiasm for a new strategy or skill that you are certain will help make you faster, smarter, more efficient or more innovative.
Here’s the question: How often does that new strategy or skill become part of your everyday work routine?
Here’s the answer for most people: Not very often.
What stops us from making permanent changes? While it isn’t difficult to get fired up about a new idea, most people – and organizations – underestimate the effort required to permanently alter attitudes, behaviors and routines. Long-lasting change requires deliberate and strategic planning.
Our research into creativity training over the last three decades has found a couple of key elements to making change stick:
- Training must be meaningfully impactful to ‘unfreeze’ established attitudes and behaviors. No matter how pretty or clever, a 30 minute webinar isn’t likely to contain enough depth of material to really change the way we think.
- New behaviors are most likely to be accepted and applied to daily routines when external organizational factors (ie. requirement, recognition or reward) are developed to encourage and reinforce those behaviors.
- Employees who are trained with their teams of co-workers are more likely to permanently adopt new creativity skills into their daily job routines.
The human desire for self-improvement is a wonderful thing but, as we all know from New Year’s resolutions, can also be rather fragile. Organizations that invest in developing new skills and behaviors in their employees must nurture change until it becomes the new routine.
Do you have a story about learning new routines or making change stick? We’d love to hear how you or your organization made it happen. Learn more about investing in change at Basadur Applied Creativity.