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Innovation/Creativity

WHAT PROCTOR AND GAMBLE KNOWS THAT YOU DON'T

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Making a phone call

Think for a moment about the best idea you’ve ever come up with. Do you have the image in your mind? Now, let me ask you a question. Did that idea come solely from the depths of your mind, or was it prompted by something that you noticed or experienced around you? My guess would be the later.

So shift this thinking into your business today. If you are like the hundreds of CEOs and Executives I’ve encountered during the past couple of years, then your best products or services were the brainchild of a collaboration of sorts between internal company ideas and knowledge, combined with external solutions and creativity. This is how a great product or service is brought into the marketplace. If you’ve studied the history of Apple for example, you’d know that Steve Jobs borrowed and pilfered ideas from Xerox PARC to create the Macintosh computer after stumbling across the “GUI” during a tour.

Here’s the thing. The ideas that will spark your next new innovative product or service are waiting for you, but to find them you must interact with the marketplace. This means that you have to call-off the gatekeepers and actually take calls from new vendors and suppliers who want to pitch you their idea.

I know this seems like a complete waste of time, but if you want to continuously bring new products and ideas to the market, this is the only way to successfully do so quickly.

Don’t think of this as a burden on your time however. Companies like Proctor and Gamble have done a great job at presenting to the market what they are looking for. Take a moment to look up their “Connect + Develop” program, an online platform that solicits the market for any ideas or products that might be the next big thing in the P&G family. It doesn’t matter whether you are an inventor in your garage, or a multi-national corporation. Most importantly, the system works. I’ve met several CEOs who have pursued this route to great success.

Let me leave you with something to ponder. To be first in your market (and in other markets) means you have to solicit the market for new ideas and opportunities. What are you going to do today that will open the flood gates to your next big idea? You can’t go it alone, so call off the dogs (your gate keepers) and start to educate the market on where you are trying to take your business and more specifically how they can help.

7 Places to Find Creative Insights

Category: 

7 Places to Find Creative Insights

A November 2014 Harvard Business Review article (“Where to Look for Insight”) defines insight as “an imaginative understanding of an internal or external opportunity that can be tapped to improve efficiency, generate revenue, or boost engagement. Insights can be about stakeholder needs, market dynamics, or even how your company works.”

Most of us can adopt a mindset that facilitates creativity and insights. The authors of the HBR article urge readers to explore seven key areas:

  1. Anomalies: Examine deviations from the norm. Do you see unexpectedly high or low revenue or share in a market or segment? Surprise performance from a business process or a company unit?
  1. Confluence: Find macro trend intersections. What key economic, behavioral, technological or demographic trends do you see? How are they combining to create opportunities?
  1. Frustrations: Pinpoint deficiencies in the system. Where are customer pain points for your products, services or solutions? Which organizational processes or practices annoy you and your colleagues?
  1. Orthodoxies: Question conventional beliefs. Are there assumptions or beliefs in your industry that go unexamined? Toxic behaviors or procedures at your company that go unchallenged?
  1. Extremities: Exploit deviance. What can you learn from the behaviors and needs of your leading-edge or laggard customers, employees or suppliers?
  1. Voyages: Learn from immersion elsewhere. How are your stakeholders’ needs influenced by their sociocultural context?
  1. Analogies: Borrow from other industries or organizations. What successful innovations do you see applied in other disciplines? Can you adapt them for your own use?

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put strengths-based leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to build a company culture built on trust? Transformational leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman

Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company.  Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, more stress resiliency, and helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible. 

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com

Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com
 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
http://www.youtube.com/user/drmaynardbrusman
http://google.com/+maynardbrusman

 

 

 

Boost Performance with Creative Insights

Category: 

 

Leaders may inadvertently suppress their people’s creative insights. While bragging about their innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, these bosses may fail to notice that company systems discourage creativity. This ingrained, often invisible problem has an adverse side effect: It can diminish profits.

Improving performance for long-term success requires a two-pronged managerial approach: Focus on reducing errors while increasing creative insights.

Most managers concentrate on reducing errors: the obvious half of the equation. They know mistakes are visible, costly and embarrassing.

But many managers forget about the second step. Businesses cannot surge ahead in the marketplace without creative insights

4 Stages of Creative Insights

“When we put too much energy into eliminating mistakes, we’re less likely to gain insights.” ~ Gary A. Klein, PhD, Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights (PublicAffairs, First Trade Paper Edition, 2013)

Research into how the brain solves problems and generates “aha” moments has helped us understand the best ways to stimulate creative insights.

British psychologist Graham Wallas proposed a four-stage process in his 1926 book, The Art of Thought. He asserted that creative solutions appear sequentially:

Preparation => Incubation => Illumination => Implementation

Psychology professors John Kounios and Mark Beeman tweaked the formula in The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight and the Brain (Random House, 2015):

Immersion => Impasse => Diversion => Insight

We must step back and painstakingly observe a problem (immersion), examine perspectives and context, reinterpret the familiar, become aware of unfamiliar and unseen relationships, and question assumptions and biases.

If you reach an impasse, stop seeking answers. Seek a change of scenery, and give your brain a rest (diversion). Your subconscious will continue to make remote associations and connect ideas during an incubation period. Insights will materialize, accompanied by feelings of certainty and an emotional thrill.

7 Places to Find Creative Insights

A November 2014 Harvard Business Review article (“Where to Look for Insight”) defines insight as “an imaginative understanding of an internal or external opportunity that can be tapped to improve efficiency, generate revenue, or boost engagement. Insights can be about stakeholder needs, market dynamics, or even how your company works.”

Most of us can adopt a mindset that facilitates creativity and insights. The authors of the HBR article urge readers to explore seven key areas:

  1. Anomalies: Examine deviations from the norm. Do you see unexpectedly high or low revenue or share in a market or segment? Surprise performance from a business process or a company unit?
  1. Confluence: Find macro trend intersections. What key economic, behavioral, technological or demographic trends do you see? How are they combining to create opportunities?
  1. Frustrations: Pinpoint deficiencies in the system. Where are customer pain points for your products, services or solutions? Which organizational processes or practices annoy you and your colleagues?
  1. Orthodoxies: Question conventional beliefs. Are there assumptions or beliefs in your industry that go unexamined? Toxic behaviors or procedures at your company that go unchallenged?
  1. Extremities: Exploit deviance. What can you learn from the behaviors and needs of your leading-edge or laggard customers, employees or suppliers?
  1. Voyages: Learn from immersion elsewhere. How are your stakeholders’ needs influenced by their sociocultural context?
  1. Analogies: Borrow from other industries or organizations. What successful innovations do you see applied in other disciplines? Can you adapt them for your own use?

Fixation Thinking

Albert Einstein is reported to have said that if you gave him an hour to solve a problem, he'd use the first 55 minutes to consider if it was the right problem.

A problem typically leads to an impasse because you’re asking the wrong question. When you focus on misleading features, you risk going down rabbit holes. We need to become aware of the mental traps that cause us to fixate on the wrong problem.

Mental Training

Studies have shown that even thinking about unusual people or events primes the brain for creativity. On the other hand, thinking about conformity, rules and the way things are usually done enhances analytical thinking.

Achieving psychological distance—even if it’s only imaginary—increases insightfulness. Try to think about the big picture, the 30,000-foot view.

Environmental Influences

Kounias and Beeman believe your environment can promote a brain state that’s amenable to “aha” moments.

Creative insights and valid intuitions are characterized by:

1.  Remote associations

2.  Broad, flexible attention

3.  Abstract thought

4.  Positive mood

5.  A sense of psychological distance

6.  A promotion orientation

Some studies show that expansive surroundings (high ceilings, a view) allow greater creativity and broaden attention. The ideal environment for creative thinking is open, airy, rounded and calm.

Change everyday routines. Interact with diverse people and situations. Nonconformists can be strange, but their creative thinking is contagious. Being around them primes the brain for enhanced insightfulness.

8 Tips to Enhance Insightfulness

The threat of a deadline narrows your thinking and restricts ideas. Frequent breaks and long periods of incubation are likely impractical, but finding ways to maintain a creative mindset is paramount.

Try the following strategies to enhance insightfulness:

1.     Periodically consider your larger goals and values, and how you can promote them.

2.     Reserve time for long-range planning and creative daydreaming.

3.     Cultivate a positive mood by thinking about the people and things that bring you joy.

4.     Schedule vacations that will stimulate creative thinking.

5.     Do something new. Take up a new hobby, or delve into a topic unrelated to your occupation.

6.     Walk, run or engage in another physical activity to promote brain growth.

7.     Meditate and disengage periodically.

8.     Get ample sleep to rejuvenate brain cells, improve associative thinking and consolidate memories.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put strengths-based leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to build a company culture built on trust? Transformational leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman

Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company.  Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, more stress resiliency, and helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible. 

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com

Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com
 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
http://www.youtube.com/user/drmaynardbrusman
http://google.com/+maynardbrusman

 

 

 

Innovation at Work

Category: 

 

We coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, purpose and trust in a full engagement culture.

            

The Future of Work:
5 Skills for the Robotic Age

The challenges of 21st-century work—rapid innovation, unrelenting change and unprecedented uncertainty—have created a stress pandemic.

Depending on your disposition, you may view the future as ripe for a spectacular explosion of creativity or poised on the brink of self-destruction. Either way, there’s no going back.

The tools and skills we’ve developed over the last century inadequately address imminent challenges. We’re caught between two paradigms: a collapsing industrial platform and an uncertain new one.

“Information Age” insufficiently captures the spirit of where we’re headed. We will be forced to interpret unprecedented information streams and navigate vast knowledge networks to solve new problems.

Too Much Information

The world’s ability to store, communicate and compute information has grown at least 23% annually since 1986. Digital information increases tenfold every 5 years.

Amazon seeks to make every book ever printed available in any language in less than 60 seconds. Google’s mission is to organize all of the world’s information and make it universally accessible.

But we’re not yet ready to deal with these interconnected, nonlinear and amorphous challenges. Our skills remain too basic. We must break free of static, linear thinking and move toward dynamic, holistic information processing.

Man vs. Machine

Our educational system has taught us to copy, memorize, obey and keep score—skills we now ask machines to handle. Computers have taken over many of our jobs.

In February 2011, the IBM computer “Watson“ trounced two Jeopardy! champions over a 3-day competition. Watson’s cognitive-reasoning skills were far superior, with access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content (4 terabytes of disk storage, including the full text of Wikipedia).

Even before Alex Trebek finished reading a clue, Watson’s 2,880 parallel processor cores began to divvy up the workload. At 33 billion operations per second, they could search 500 gigabytes of data (roughly 1 million books) in the blink of an eye. Watson could also hit the buzzer in less than 8 milliseconds.

During the 3 seconds Watson took to deliver a correct response, various algorithms worked across multiple processors to return hundreds of hypothetical answers. Watson was programmed to hit the buzzer only after reaching a 50% confidence level. By the end of the game, Watson had surpassed previous champions’ winnings by almost 200%, easily becoming the first nonhuman Jeopardy! champion.

In February 2013, IBM announced that Watson’s first commercial software application would be used for utilization management decisions at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Ninety percent of nurses who use Watson now follow its guidance.

This is an example of how robots, machines and computers will ultimately take our jobs. We must harness our creative energy in new ways to stay ahead of the “robot curve.”

Creative Destruction

In 1942, economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term creative destruction to describe the continual process of economic and technological innovation. Modern-day examples include:

·   Telephone replaces telegraph

·   Automobile replaces horse-drawn carriage

·   Digital camera replaces film

·   Smartphone replaces cell phone

The need for efficient transportation and communication will persist while their delivery systems will always change.

“Help! A Robot Ate My Job!”

If you haven’t yet heard this complaint, you will. Today’s widespread unemployment is not a jobs crisis; it’s a talent crisis. Technology is taking every job that doesn’t require a high degree of creativity, humanity or leadership.

In times of rapid change, success favors those who can make big leaps of imagination, courage and effort. Innovation and creative destruction are rampant in the first two decades of the 21st century. The call for new ways to work will become even more pressing.

10 Areas Ripe for Innovation

We tend to think of new technology as the space where game-changing innovations occur, but fertile new ideas may reside elsewhere. The Doblin Group, a Chicago think tank, has identified 10 areas where innovation can deliver competitive advantages:

1.     The business model: how a company makes money

2.     Networking: including organizational structure, value chain, partnerships

3.     Enabling processes: the capabilities a company buys from others

4.     Core processes: proprietary methods that add value

5.     Product performance: including features and functionality

6.     Product systems: extended systems that support the product

7.     Service: how a company treats customers

8.     Channels: how companies connect offerings to customers

9.     Branding: how a company builds its reputation

10.  Customer experience: including the touchpoints where customers encounter the brand

Think of problems as opportunities to find worthy and inspiring solutions. In Metaskills: 5 Talents for the Robotic Age, business adviser Marty Neumeier encourages leaders to use the following questions as inspiration points:

·      What’s the “either/or” that’s obscuring innovation opportunities?

·      In which areas do the usual methods no longer achieve predicted results?

·      What’s the “can’t-do” that you can turn into a “can-do”?

·      Which problems are so big that they can no longer be seen?

·      Which categories or sectors exhibit the most uneven rates of change?

·      In which area is there a great deal of interest, but very few solutions?

·      Where can you find too little or too much order?

·      Which of your talents can be upscaled in some surprising way?

·      Where can your passion take you?

5 Skills for the Robotic Age

We need to stay on top of the robot curve—the constant waterfall of obsolescence and opportunity fed by competition and innovation.

Neumeier presents five metaskills that—so far—robots cannot handle:

1.     Feeling encompasses intuition, empathy and social intelligence. Humans draw on emotion for intuition, aesthetics and empathy—skills that are becoming more vital as we enter the robotic age.

2.     Seeing is the ability to think whole thoughts (also known as “system thinking”). We understand parts of a system when we appreciate their relationship to each other, rather than in isolation. Before tinkering with a system, we need to ask:

a.    What will happen if I do nothing?

b.    What may be improved?

c.     What may be diminished?

d.    What will be replaced?

e.    Will it expand future options?

f.     What are the ethical considerations?

g.    Will it simplify or complicate the system?

h.    Are my basic assumptions correct?

i.    What has to be true to make this possible?

j.    Are events likely to unfold this way?

k.   If so, will the system really react this way?

l.    What are the factors behind the events?

m.   What are the long-term costs and benefits?

3.     Dreaming requires you to apply your imagination—one of the brain’s more mysterious capabilities. Innovators transform their dreams into practical solutions. You dream by disassociating your thoughts from all that is linear and the logical. Like most things, dreaming improves with practice. Unfortunately, it’s never taught in business schools—a gross omission that discourages innovation.

4.     Making involves mastering the design process, including skills for devising prototypes. Creativity is nothing without craft. The act of making something turns imagination into brilliant products, services and successful businesses. Think of it this way:

a.    In design, sketching is the mother of invention.

b.    In science, it’s the experiment.

c.     In business, it’s the whiteboard diagram.

d.    In writing, it’s the rough draft.

e.    In acting, it’s the run-through.

f.      In inventing, it’s the prototype.

g.     In jazz, it’s jamming.

You must constantly push yourself beyond your limits and pay attention to the tasks that trip you up. In design circles, this is known as fast failing. Successive drawings and models are designed to illuminate the problem and, in the process, spark intuition among collaborators. It will be interesting to see how 3D printing will be used to enhance the design process. Unfortunately, too many organizations value process and standardization at the risk of suppressing surprising results.

5.     Learning is an ongoing process. We must continually master skills to adapt. We then apply our newfound knowledge in innovative ways. Learning is enhanced through good moods, action and emotional experiences. We become masterful through deliberate practice.


These five metaskills can keep you two or three steps ahead of the machines, algorithms and outsourcing forces of the robot curve. They’ll also bring you greater creativity, a higher purpose and a deeper sense of fulfillment.

So far, the human brain has many advantages over machines, but the gap is closing. You’ll need to routinely upgrade your skills to remain essential.

Will You Be “Future Smart”?

Game-changing trends will continue to affect business, technology, the workforce, the economy, security and the environment. We’re well aware of many of them: climate change, energy demand and population growth.  We can only guess at others.

Thriving in this future requires you to become predictive, adaptive and agile—what global futurist James Canton, PhD, calls Future Smart. Exponential new technologies will emerge in digital money, mobile commerce and big data. An explosive new middle class of more than 1 billion consumers will enter the marketplace. We can look forward to:

·      Regenerative medicine that extends our life span and rebuilds our bodies

·      Robots and drones that drive our cars, teach our kids and fight our wars

·      Smart machines that design, manage and service 40% of all global businesses—energy, commerce, finance and manufacturing—without humans

·      Always-connected digital consumers who challenge every business to change its strategy

·      Climate-change wars that redefine security and resources

Most of us are ill prepared to meet these challenges, which are coming faster than we think. Armed with knowledge, those who are future smart can take action to reinvent themselves, their businesses and their world.

Transformational leaders can create a full engagement culture driven by purpose and passion by working with an executive coach and culture change expert. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put positive leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to build a company culture built on trust? Transformational leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture mindful conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman

Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence Workplace Expert

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company.  Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, more stress resiliency, and helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible. 

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com

Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com
 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
http://www.youtube.com/user/drmaynardbrusman
http://google.com/+maynardbrusman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INNOVATION SOURCES FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

I frequently meet business executives and owners who ask for my thoughts on best practices. When I ask why they are seeking this information, their response is invariably a desire to inject new ideas and a fresh perspective on their business to drive growth in both sales and revenue, all while diminishing operating costs and overhead.

 

There are three sources of new ideas that I recommend in these situations, which require very little investment of either time or capital. The combined outcome of this can yield significant returns and breathe new life into what can often seem a stale existence.

 

Source #1: Employees. There is no better source for ideas on how to improve business operations and customer value than employees. They work daily to meet customer expectations and understand the bottlenecks and challenges impacting improved performance. You need to strike and retain an ongoing dialogue with employees to extract ideas to improve business performance.

 

Source #2: Supplier Partners. I'm not suggesting here you 'pay' for new technology or equipment, but rather that you ensure suppliers are consistently solicited for information on new products, changes in the marketplace, new technology, even intelligence on what your competitors are doing. You'd be surprised what they'll share if you simply ask.

 

Source #3: Peer to peer relations. New ideas often come from those who have "been there and done that." Do you meet frequently with business owners or executives that have non-competing businesses? You'd be shocked at the parallels between businesses, despite varying sectors or industries. Be sure to connect with peers on an informal basis, or join a network that facilitates such meetings to enhance your network and inject you with new ideas and energy.

 

If you're seeking a fresh perspective, consider any (or all!) of these three sources of ideas and best practices, and breathe life into your business and wind back in your sails.

The Innovator’s Paradox

The Innovator’s Paradox

When’s the best time to implement change?

Before you need to do so.

During the 2008–2009 financial crises, many organizations viewed innovation as a choice. Not so today.  If you and your organization fail to innovate, you’re on the path to stagnation and obsolescence.

Start by asking three question sets proposed by consultant Scott D. Anthony in The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011):

1. What do underlying trends suggest about possible future states? What would happen if some of these trends converged into a perfect storm?

2. Where is there a small, but growing, trend? Anything that has doubled in size is a potential disruptor, regardless of its small size today.

3. What can you learn from analogies and metaphors? What similar situations have companies faced in the past? What can you learn from others’ mistakes and history?

Innovation Is a Discipline

Innovation is not just about finding a new product or service. You must create solutions to customers’ problems—even the ones that aren’t yet articulated.

Break down the process into four distinct phases:

1. Discover opportunities.

2. Organize ideas into plans or pilot projects.

3. Assess, test and learn from ideas.

4. Execute.

Phase 1: Innovation Starts with the Customer

To innovate, companies focus on their customers and end-users. They devote resources, teams and processes to find out intimate details about customer experiences.

Regrettably, this challenging phase is often glossed over. It isn’t productive to simply survey customers about their needs or wants. Most customers will provide only cursory answers to this question.

Focus groups are often ineffective if you want to discover customers’ frustration points. Participants couch their answers to conform to group dynamics or erroneously assume others are on the same page. First-hand observation of product usage works better when trying to come up with innovation opportunities.

To fully understand what goes on in customers’ minds, ask them what they’re trying to accomplish with your product or service. Management guru Peter Drucker has been known to explain it like this:

“The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a ‘product.’ What is paid for is satisfaction.”

Ask customers several successive questions to determine how they wish to use your product or service to achieve satisfaction:

  • “Why?”
  • “Why not?”
  • “What if…?”

Phase 2: From Idea to Plan

Some recently published books suggest that a strong idea is a good starting point for finding growth opportunities. In truth, your first idea is usually wrong in some meaningful way. Use it, instead, to develop the next idea, until you find what works.

Moving from good idea to growth requires a robust blueprint or full schematic of what your ideas will ultimately yield. Research how other leaders have solved similar problems.

Your idea doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be good enough to deliver better solutions. Your plan also has to be realistic.

  • How will you test the idea?
  • What resources will you need (partners, customers, time, money)?
  • What are possible revenues (short- and long-term)?
  • What are the possible threats and barriers (short- and long-term)?
  • What assumptions are you making?

Helpful tip: Look for innovation inspiration by searching online. A good place to start is the 20-minute video talks by experts at TED.

Phase 3: Assessing and Testing Ideas

Ideas are relatively easy; what’s hard is actually doing something with them.

You must be willing to accept failure and learn from mistakes. This requires resilience and persistence. Be alert to the signals of a disruptive solution, as opposed to a failure. How can you provide a simpler, more convenient or more affordable answer to your customers’ frustration points?

Tests are the best ways to learn about existing critical assumptions and to identify new ones. As valuable as research is, you’ll know whether your idea works only after actual implementation.

Phase 4: Putting Plans to Work

After completing the testing, learning and revising phases, put your plans to work. Start with a pilot project to minimize resources and maximize potential.

You’ll need to manage resources to improve potential. Determine what you’ll do yourself and what you’ll delegate. Involve partners where feasible.

If the project is part of a larger organizational mandate, prepare a presentation on your results for involved executives. Your presentation style and contents will influence your project’s acceptance or rejection, so be meticulous. You may love your baby, but how will you convince others to adopt it? Seek help from presentation experts, if necessary, to ensure success.

Acquiring Innovative Qualities

Business professors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen decoded what they call The Innovator’s DNA in their book of the same name (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011).  

Successful innovators master associational thinking. They make connections among seemingly unconnected inputs.

Here are four time-tested approaches for gathering stimuli and making connections:

1. Questioning: An innovative mind makes a lot of “what if?” inquiries.

2. Networking: Innovators interact with people from diverse backgrounds to access new perspectives.

3. Observing: Innovators are always looking at the world with business radar to detect surprising solutions.

4. Experimenting: Innovators try new things, in new places, to expose themselves to new experiences.

You can develop these qualities by working with a professional coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders implement change? Does your organization provideexecutive coaching for leaders who need to learn how to ask inquiry-type questions? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “When’s the best time to implement change?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders develop more effective teams.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture innovation. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged withthe vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
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Innovative Companies Reinvent

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping  Companies Assess, Select, Coach and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Strategic Talent Management; Leadership Development; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; and Leadership & Team Building Retreats

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach

Innovative Companies Reinvent

“Your work is to discover your work, and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it.”- Buddha

I recently spoke with the VP of Human Resources of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for the company CEO. She asked some very insightful questions to determine fit. She specifically wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating changes in thinking and behavior.

The VP of HR and I spoke about my approach to coaching and consulting, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior based on neuroscience and business acumen are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to create a culture where innovation flourishes.

The VP of HR is interested in partnering with me in helping executives improve their emotional intelligence. We further discussed how high performing company executives can benefit by working with a seasoned executive coach.

Reinvention

When interviewing product managers at Google, hiring managers ranked candidates on four metrics: technical ability, communication skills, intellect and Googliness. A Googley person embodies the values of the company - a willingness to help others, an upbeat attitude, a passion for the company, and the most important, humility.

They asked two heads of engineering to identify the most important characteristic in new hires. Both responded, "humility". For one startup ascertaining humility is so important, it is the first filter in the interview process.

Disruptive companies reinvent. They don't copy and execute someone else's playbook. To be disruptive, a startup's team must cast aside preconceived notions and assumptions about doing things the "right way" and start inventing new ways.

The more time I spend working with creative and innovative companies, the better I understand that there are no templates or best practices. Agile teams face  unique market opportunities with distinct market dynamics, sales processes, competitive forces, assets and challenges.

In such circumstances, the best expeditionary force keeps open minds about the way forward. They learn from each other and the market. The first step to learning is an open mindset to new possibilities accepting you don't know everything. What got you here won’t get you to where you need to go.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders? Sustainable leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more compelling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do we have an innovative company that reinvents itself staying true to our core values and purpose?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their leadership development programs.

Working with a seasoned cognitive executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help innovative leaders reinvent for a sustainable future.You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com  

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

Competency-Based Selection - Hire for Humility

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Firm Executive Coaching Helping  Companies Assess, Select, Coach and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Strategic Talent Management; Leadership Development; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; and Leadership & Team Building Retreats

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach

Competency-Based Selection - Hire for Humility

I recently spoke with the VP of Human Resources of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding helping their company develop a Competency Model and make more successful hires. She asked some very insightful questions to determine fit. She specifically wanted to know how I assess personality and requisite competencies.

The VP of HR and I spoke about my approach to selection, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior based on neuroscience and business acumen are important competencies for executive selection. We also spoke of the need for her organization to hire executives who can help create a culture where innovation flourishes.

The VP of HR is also interested in partnering with me in helping their executives improve their emotional intelligence. We further discussed how high performing company executives can benefit by working with a seasoned executive coach.

The ability to select, motivate, develop, and retain top people is critical to a company’s success. If you want to build a company where people love to work you have to know how to hire and keep great people. Unfortunately, a poor hire can cost a company a great deal of money and cause undue distress and wasted time for everyone involved. Great companies and managers start with optimistic, change-resilient, and committed people whose values fit the workplace culture. Keeping great people involves creating a healthy work environment where people can use all their knowledge, creativity, and skills. Self-managed organizations create work environments where people can continuously learn and make decisions.

Carrie is Vice President of Human Resources at a fast growing company in a very competitive market. However, most of the company’s managers are extremely busy and find the hiring process very boring. Many resent time taken away from “important work” that needs to be done. Resumes are glanced at.  Interviews consist of questions made up as the interview goes along.  Interviewers talk most of the time, largely selling the virtues of the company.  Hiring decisions are frequently based on impulse.  Interviewers rarely find the time to get together as part of a team and discuss the candidate’s work-related competencies. Tracy found herself exhausted with the process and knew there had to be a better way.

Sound familiar?

Believe it or not, hiring the right people can be enjoyable and fun. Managers can easily learn an innovative method of interviewing, hiring and retaining people based on a candidate’s past performance.  Research in the area of emotional intelligence supports the idea that the ability to communicate effectively with others is a critical workplace core competency. The selection and assessment process is a great place to practice these skills.

The first place to start when hiring someone is to do a job analysis. Identify the critical success factors or job-specific competencies by interviewing top performers in that position. The next step is to create a job description based on a candidate’s past performance. If you want to hire great people, first define exceptional performance. Effective job descriptions define what needs to be accomplished, not the skills and experience the candidate needs to have. Research demonstrates that the ability to accomplish desired goals is a better predictor of future performance than the candidate’s level of skills and experience. Comparable past performance is a good predictor of future accomplishment.

What is a competency? 

Competencies are behaviors that distinguish effective performers from ineffective ones. Certain motives, traits, skills, and abilities are attributed to people who consistently behave in specific ways. A competency model depicts a set of desired behaviors for a particular job position or level. A competency model also implies that such behaviors are predictive of who is likely to be successful in a position or role.

Two distinct groups of competencies are assessed during any job interview.

  • Job competencies are the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities required to accomplish any given task at work.
     
  • Emotional Intelligence competencies refer to an individual’s personality or emotional makeup. They consist of habits, abilities, and skills that transfer from job to job.

When interviewing product managers at Google, hiring managers ranked candidates in four competency areas: technical ability, communication skills, intellect and “Googliness”. A “Googley” person embodies the values of the company - a willingness to help others, an upbeat attitude, a passion for the company, and most importantly, humility.

Two heads of engineering identified humility as the most important competency in new hires. For one startup ascertaining humility is so important, it is the first filter in the interview process.

Innovative and disruptive companies reinvent. They don't copy and execute someone else's playbook. To be disruptive, a startup's team must set aside preconceived notions and assumptions about doing things the "right way" and start inventing new ways.

There are no templates or best practices in working with startup companies. Each startup team faces a unique market opportunity with distinct market dynamics, sales processes, competitive forces, assets and challenges.

In such circumstances, it is best to have creative thinkers with open minds about the way forward. They learn from each other and the market. The first step to learning is a beginner’s mindset accepting we don't know everything.

Are you working in a company that selects and develops emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders? Humble leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more compelling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Does our company select humble leaders?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their leadership development programs.

Working with a seasoned cognitive executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders develop their emotional intelligence competence. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com  

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 

Ignite Leadership Creative Thinking

Working Resources is an Executive Coaching San Francisco Bay Area Firm Helping  Companies Assess, Select, Coach and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Talent Management; Leadership Development; Competency Modeling; Succession Management;

Ignite Leadership Creative Thinking

Creativity is something you practice, not just a talent you’re born with.~ Tom Kelley and David Kelley, IDEO

According to a global IBM survey of chief executives, creativity is the most sought-after trait in leaders today. In these times of disruptive innovations, creative thinking is especially crucial for the rise and continued success of start-up to stalwart companies.

Facebook, Google, Apple, Procter & Gamble and General Electric are prime examples. Without continual breakthroughs, these organizations couldn’t sustain success. Companies whose leaders learn to innovate more quickly, cheaply and with less risk will emerge from any downturn stronger than ever.

It starts with an innovation mindset. Creativity isn’t something that’s learned, as much as rediscovered. Most people are born creative. Just look at children to see how naturally they use their imaginations. But somewhere around adolescence, we begin to stifle our creative impulses as we become more aware of other people’s judgment.

We learn to be more cautious and analytical. This tendency becomes even more pronounced as we join organizations that favor critical thinking. As we become mature contributors to corporate culture, we are continually rewarded for our analytical abilities.

Creative thinking takes a backseat, except in breakthrough situations. But you cannot achieve such innovations unless your company’s culture supports new ideas—even those that fail.

In “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence” (Harvard Business Review, December 2012), Tom Kelley and David Kelley suggest strategies for rediscovering our innate creative thinking abilities. The authors are the manager and founder, respectively, of IDEO, an international design and innovation consultancy.

They identify four common fears that block our best ideas from coming to fruition:

1. The messy unknown

2. Being judged

3. Taking the first step

4. Losing control

Fear of the Messy Unknown

Creative thinking in business starts with having empathy for your customers. You cannot be truly inspired if you’re sitting comfortably behind your desk—unless, of course, you’re venturing into online forums and social sites where customers express their complaints.

Looking at spreadsheets filled with focus-group data won’t inspire breakthrough ideas. In the real and virtual worlds, you’ll hear unexpected, outside-the-box comments. Even feedback from irrational people—the customers whose comments you really don’t want to hear—can provide important insights.

When you pursue information without preconceived ideas, you’ll make new discoveries about customers’ needs. You’ll stumble upon concerns you’ve never even considered.

Implement these strategies to conquer your fear of the messy unknown:

  • Visit online social sites to tap into customers’ grievances and desires.
  • Ask colleagues who regularly go into the field to report what customers are saying.
  • Seek opinions from an unexpected expert, such as a repairman.
  • Be a spy. Observe people in places where your product is used.
  • Interview potential customers in stores or other places they may be found.

Fear of Being Judged

Most of us care deeply about what others think of us, including our friends, family, superiors and trusted colleagues. While we don’t mind being judged in some situations, we rarely risk our business-world egos.

We don’t want our bosses or peers to see us fail, as gossip spreads quickly in the workplace. We therefore stick to safe solutions and suggestions. We hang back, letting others take the risks. Unfortunately, this approach prevents us from unleashing creative ideas.

If you continually censor yourself, you’re effectively trapped in a self-judgment loop. You must be courageous enough to express your ideas without fear, before they fly out of your brain and down the drain.

Trust your intuition and embrace your ideas. Write them down in an idea notebook so you can systematically find them, when appropriate. Keep something handy for note-taking during downtime: in the shower, next to the bed, while jogging, in the car.

You can also:

  • Schedule daily free-thinking time in your calendar.
  • Defer judgment or critical thinking until later.

When brainstorming with others, avoid using language that censors expression, and encourage others to follow suit. Instead of saying, “That will never work,” start with “I like…” and move on to “I wish…”

Open with positive statements instead of going straight to the negatives. Use “I” instead of “you” to signal that you’re expressing your opinion and want help. This makes others more receptive to sharing ideas and receiving suggestions, without feeling judged.

Fear of Taking the First Step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.~ Lao-tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher
Creative efforts are hardest at the beginning: writing the first sentence, making the first phone call, announcing the intended project. The first step can be anxiety-provoking and physically draining. You need to stop planning and get started.

Stop focusing on the huge overall picture and find a small piece you can tackle right away. Give yourself a crazy deadline. Instead of “by the end of the week,” try for “before lunch.”

At IDEO, Tom and David Kelley embrace the mantra “Don’t get ready, get started!” The first step will seem much less daunting if you make it a tiny one and force yourself to do it now.

When you procrastinate, you allow anxiety to build. It may be reassuring to spend more time planning, thinking and talking about your action steps, but much of this is wasted time.

Fear of Losing Control

Courage is only the accumulation of small steps. ~ György Konrád, Hungarian essayist

When you abandon the status quo, you open yourself up to the possibility of making mistakes. When you develop ideas with others, this possibility increases substantially.

Collaboration means losing complete control of your product, team and results. This is an enormous sacrifice, especially for control-oriented executives.

In reality, we have less control than we think. The downside of shunning collaboration is staying stuck with the same routines, products and business models. In a rapidly changing world, this really isn’t an option. If your business doesn’t change, it won’t sustain success in the long term. Marshall Goldsmith’s oft-quoted adage is true: What got you here won’t get you there.

When you sacrifice control, the creative gains can more than compensate for the risks involved. Start small. Look for opportunities to cede control and leverage different perspectives. As a leader, you can:

  • Set up pilot projects.
  • Invite new people to participate.
  • Observe the culture to learn how mistakes are processed.
  • Make sure the unspoken rules don’t squelch risk-taking and creativity.
  • Frequently communicate shared values to reinforce creative thinking aligned with mission and purpose.
  • Remind people of both analytical and creative thinking values, and support their ideas.

Your business cannot evolve without new ideas. Be humble enough to let go of what worked in the past and brave enough to seek innovation in a rapidly changing world.

Don’t get stuck at the starting line. Let go of your fears and practice creative thinking (and doing) now.

Focus on the Future

The business enterprise has two, and only two, basic functions: marketing and innovation. It is not necessary for a business to grow bigger; but it is necessary that it constantly grow better. ―Peter F. Drucker, management expert

Top executives estimate they spend only about 3 percent of their time thinking about the critical issues that will shape their businesses 10 or more years down the road. It’s simply not enough.

It’s easy to get caught up in the urgency of day-to-day operations and short-term goals. How often do you look beyond what’s in front of you?

While the ability to focus on the future separates high-potential leaders from the rank and file, many of us fail to understand and appreciate its importance. Such planning is closely linked to creative thinking abilities, yet many of us devote almost no time to it. Lack of creative thinking becomes a huge barrier to our career success and our company’s trajectory.

Shift from small- to big-picture thinking by employing these strategies:

  • Daydream! Carve out time each week to peer into the distance and imagine what may be out there.
  • Take 30 minutes each day to learn what’s going on in your industry, with customers, and with your products’ and services’ potential future.
  • Ask others for imaginative thinking about the future. Create a task force to explore ideas.
  • Find out what competitors are envisioning. There are many ways to do this without spying (create relationships, host a panel, connect through trade organizations).

Disruptive Innovation

Clayton M. Christensen and Scott D. Anthony have written books about “disruptive innovation,” the process of breaking ineffective rules to achieve progress.

Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, notes that companies are thwarted by the usual suspects: “bureaucracy, arrogance, tired executive blood, poor planning, short-term investment horizons, inadequate skills and resources, and just plain bad luck” (The Innovator’s Dilemma:The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business, HarperBusiness, 2011).

Anthony, president of the Lexington, MA-based consulting firm Innosight, argues that tough times call for “stopping ineffective initiatives, changing key business processes and starting more productive behaviors” (The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times, Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Managers must master four areas to develop a disruptive mindset:

1. Liberate resourcesfor promising innovations by prudently shutting down dead-end projects and declining businesses.

2. Drive fresh growthby re-featuring existing products and services and reinventing outdated processes.

3. Mitigate risksby conducting strategic experiments and forging alliances with customers, competitors and suppliers.

4. Appeal to value-conscious consumersand fend off low-cost attackers by delivering “good enough” offerings at an affordable price.

The Challenge for Executives

Systematizing disruptive innovation is a different beast. Senior executives must think and act in ways that run counter to everything they have previously done to succeed in their careers.

How do you simultaneously manage two different instincts: one operational, the other entrepreneurial?

Executives who encounter tough times naturally become more conservative. It’s hard for them to tolerate creative thinking when they face the prospect of downsizing.

But companies that play it too safe can wind up in trouble down the road. Frustrated managers may quit, leaving their firms ill-equipped to function effectively once a downturn ends. Don’t let this happen to your organization.

Embracing paradox and systematizing disruptive innovation have graduated from niceties to necessities. Leaders can master these requisite skills by:

  • Developing an awareness of themselves and others
  • Creating a personalized program of leadership development with an executive coach
  • Striving to improve their ability to spot hidden opportunities and act in more entrepreneurial ways
  • Scheduling regular excursions to observe how certain customers use a product or service
  • Attending a conference in a different industry
  • Learning to ask more “what if…?” questions

Even when the economy is unhealthy, innovation and entrepreneurism must remain alive. Make sure they thrive in your company. Examine how the four fears that squash creativity are playing out in your corporate culture.

Rekindle creative thinking and innovative mindsets in your organization. There are ample opportunities for corporate innovators to create booming businesses that transform what exists and invent what doesn’t.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders to develop an innovation mindset? Creative leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to ignite creative thinking.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a leader who is a creative thinker?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their innovation initiatives.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help tap into your creativity. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Subscribe to Working ResourcesFREEE-mail Newsletter:
http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard’s Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com
E-mail: mbrusman@workingresources.com
Voice: 415-546-1252

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
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