How and why an innovative team can leverage its organization’s creative resources to achieve and sustain breakthrough results
By nature, an innovative team is one comprised of members who rely on innovative thinking to improve a concept, methodology, system, process, or product. Those who comprise a team know more and can do more than any of its members can. In Tom Davenport’s latest book, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.”
Please keep the reference to “organizational judgment” in mind when considering these comments by Chris Grivas and Gerard Puccio in the Foreword to their book: “we have discovered that most people report having higher levels of energy for some areas of creative process over others. We refer to these four creative creative-thinking preference types as Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and implementers. Each way of thinking is fundamental to the creative process; that is, you need all four to generate breakthroughs, but our research and applied work has highlighted the fact that people will vary in regard to how comfortable they are thinking and behaving as Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and Implementers.”
However different members of an innovator team may be in many respects, Grivas and Puccio urge them to consider a theory, developed into a methodology, called FourSight that has been severely tested and rigorously refined over a period of several decades in real-world organizations whose leaders were determined to “un leash creative potential for breakthrough results.” They organize their material within two Parts: a business fable that involves fictional executives in a fictional company that faces very real challenges and crises (viewed both as perils and as opportunities). Although Grivas and Puccio have by no means written a potboiler, a page-turner, they make skillful use of the narrative components (setting, cast of characters, dialogue, plot developments, etc.). The details of the fable are best revealed in context, in the book.
These are several of the themes, subjects, and issues that Grivas and Puccio cover in Part 2, “Exploring the Four Creative Thinking Styles” (Chapters 17-23).
o Clarifying the organization’s current resources, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, etc.
o Prioritizing problems initiatives
o Determining what must be done to use innovative thinking and initiatives to achieve strategic objectives
o Generating ideas of sufficient quality and in sufficient number
o Developing solutions to root causes rather than responding to symptoms of problems
o Implementing “game plan” with on-going measurement, evaluation, and modification as-needed
o Increasing what works, correcting/eliminating what doesn’t, and “getting the word out” on lessons learned
Then Grivas and Puccio explain how to create and then sustain conditions for success (i.e. breakthrough results) in the final chapter, observing (and I agree), “CEOs and managers ‘prize ‘team players’ because they know that in today’s collaborative world economy an organization’s success, and even survival, hangs on the ability to tap team potential” so that team members tap their organization’s potential. “By becoming more consciously and deliberatively creative, we can enjoy our days with more satisfaction, enable others to do the same, and together produce results that no one has yet dreamed of”
After I read this book and then again as I re-read it prior to composing this brief commentary, I was reminded of a passage in Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather ‘Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?’”
If an innovative team is not making enough mistakes that test its members’ and its organization’s “deeply held assumptions,” it will never unleash creative potential for breakthrough results. Never.
David Justice: Scotty H.
Scott Hatteberg: Yo, what’s up, D.J.?
David Justice: Pickin’ machine.
David Justice: How you likin’ first base, man?
Scott Hatteberg: It’s, uh… it’s coming along. Picking it up. You know, tough transition, but I’m starting to feel better with it.
David Justice: Yeah?
Scott Hatteberg: Yeah.
David Justice: What’s your biggest fear?
Scott Hatteberg: A baseball being hit in my general direction
[Hatteberg and Justice share a laugh]
David Justice: That’s funny. Seriously, what is it?
Scott Hatteberg: No, seriously, that is.
[uncomfortable pause; Hatteberg leaves]
David Justice: Well, hey, good luck with that.
(From the movie, Moneyball)
We have a shortage in this country. Let’s call it a “Mojo” shortage. We’re just not quite sure about our future. We’re seeming a little unsure that we are up to the task. And it is draining our energy, all around us.
The reasons are plentiful. This morning, Research in Motion (BlackBerry) announced their first round of layoffs. Hewlitt Packard has recently implemented a major round of layoffs. JCPenney has just gotten rid of its President – the turn around is going a little slower than hoped, and things look a little shaky. American Airlines; well, the very name kind of just makes you sad at the moment. And that list is just off the top of my head from what I remember the last few days.
But we still have well over 150 million folks showing up to work in this country every day. And they need to be at their best. And then, they need to get better in the days to come – better, more capable, smarter. Liz Wiseman, in her book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, writes that the best leaders are Multipliers, not diminishers. From the book:
“People actually get smarter and more capable around Multipliers. That is, people don’t just feel smarter; they actually become smarter. They can solve harder problems, adapt more quickly, and take more intelligent action.”
I’m not sure we have enough Multiplier leaders to go around at the moment. I think we’ve got a Mojo deficiency, a Mojo shortage that must be addressed.
And I think we all need to be Mojo strengtheners, not Mojo stealers, Mojo diminishers.
Consider Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers are currently on a roll, but his strengths were evident much earlier. His Multiplier abilities are described really well by Michael Lewis in Moneyball – The Art of Winning an Unfair Game:
Ron Washington was the infield coach because he had a gift for making players want to be better than they were — though he would never allow himself such a pretentious thought.
Billy Beane, with little money to work with, had to turn ball players with little potential in critical aspects of their job into functioning big leaguers. Now, by definition, “big leaguers” are the true “A players.” But even those good enough to get to the big leagues are not “A” players in every aspect of the game. One case was Scott Hatteberg, a former catcher whose body would no longer perform the catcher’s role, had to be turned into a first baseman. He was terrified at the challenge. (see the dialogue from the movie, above). But a first baseman has to be able to perform, play after play after play. So the infield coach, Ron Washington, had to turn him into a big league first baseman. Fast.
The more he (Scott Hatteberg) went out to play first base, the more comfortable he felt there. By late June, he could say with a smile that “the difference between spring training and now is that when a ground ball comes at me now, my blood pressure doesn’t go through the roof.” A large part of the change was due to Wash. Wash got inside your head because — well, because you wanted Wash inside your head. Every play Hatty made, including throws he took from other infielders, he came back to the dugout and discussed with Wash. His coach was creating an alternative scale on which Hatty could judge his performance. He might be an absolute D but on Wash’s curve, he felt like a B, and rising. “He knew what looked like a routine play wasn’t a routine play for me,” said Hatty. Wash was helping him fool himself, to make him feel better than he was, until he actually became better than he was. At the Coliseum it was a long way from the A’s dugout to first base, but every time Hatty picked a throw out of the dirt – a play most first basemen made with their eyes closed – he’d hear Wash shout out from the dugout: “Pickin’ Machine!” He’d look over and see Wash with his fighting face on. “Pickin’ Machine!” He began to relax. He began to want the ball to be hit to him.
“He began to want the ball to be hit to him.” He found his Mojo. He was ready for work. He was ready for his work. He was up to the task. And much of the credit was due to a Multiplier leader like Ron Washington.
The books are filled with the advice. Look for the good. Build on strengths. Praise often. Tell the stories of success far and wide. They all boil down to this: don’t steal anyone’s Mojo. Strengthen it. Because until a person “begins to want the ball hit to him,” there is little chance of the success we all want, and need.
So, are you in a leadership position? Consider the people around you – are you stealing their Mojo, or strengthening it? This may be the ultimate test, the ultimate trait, of good leadership.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Thea Easterby and featured online by Business Insider. To read the complete article, check out others, and sign up for free email alerts, please click here.
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Benjamin Franklin was a man of action. Over his lifetime, his curiosity and passion fueled a diverse range of interests. He was a writer (often using a pseudonym), publisher, diplomat, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
His inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove. Franklin was responsible for establishing the first public library, organizing fire fighters in Philadelphia, was one of the early supporters of mutual insurance and crossed the Atlantic eight times. Self-development was a constant endeavor throughout his incredible life.
Benjamin Franklin was clearly a man who knew how to get things done.
Here are [four of] 14 action-inducing lessons from him:
• Less Talk, More Action
“Well done is better than well said.”
Talk is cheap. Talking about a project won’t get it completed. We all know people who constantly talk about the things they are going to do but rarely ever take that first step. Eventually people begin to question their credibility. Taking action and seeing the task through to completion is the only way to get the job done.
• Don’t Procrastinate
“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
This is probably one of the first quotes I remember hearing as a teenager. With an impressive list of achievements to his credit, Benjamin Franklin was not a man hung up on procrastination. He was a man with clear measurable goals who worked hard to turn his vision into reality. What are you putting off till tomorrow that could make a difference in your life today?
• Be Prepared
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
You need a plan to accomplish your goals. Charging in without giving any thought to the end result and how to achieve it, is a sure way to fall flat on your face. Think like a boy scout. Have a realistic plan of attack and a systematic approach for getting where you need to be.
• Don’t Fight Change
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
Whilst many of us don’t like change, others thrive on it. Either way change is inevitable. The stronger we fight against it, the more time and energy it consumes. Give up the fight. Focus on proactively making positive changes, instead of having change merely thrust upon you. Wherever possible, try to view change as a positive instead of a negative.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Thea Easterby is a freelance writer. Her blog www.writechangegrow.com offers inspiring tips on writing, career change and personal development.
Why and how “prediction market democracy” tends to make better decisions that, eventually, produce better results
Donald Thompson is an advocate of “prediction market democracy” because a prediction market can “revolutionize the way companies operate.” As I began to read his book, I was reminded of material in Judgment Calls, co-authored by Tom Davenport and Brooke Manville, in which they offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.”
I was surprised to learn that the prediction market business” has a long history, dating back to ancient Greece and an oracle, Gaia, an earth goddess in residence at Delphi on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. According to Thompson “business organizations are bad at aggregating their employees’ thinking on critical issues.” Also, Gaia is no longer available. In the absence of divine revelation or assistance in lesser form, organizations are relying more heavily on what can be learned from successful prediction markets, those that meet four requirements: diversity of experience and talents among the human sources; an independent decision-making process that protects participants from external pressures (e.g. “bullying”); an effective way to aggregate information from various sources; and incentive(s) sufficient to get participants to “take the exercise seriously.”
This book’s subtitle refers to employees who can become “visionaries.” I am intrigued by the possibility of adding ophthalmology to a supervisor’s core competencies, enabling her or him to improve direct reports’ vision so that they can “see” better in two quite different ways: recognize what is often ignored because others deem it “unimportant,” and, understand what is often dismissed because others deem it “insignificant.”
Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Thompson provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel with regard to dozens of major business situations and issues such as these:
o Why and how predications based on collective judgment are more reliable in sports, film, election, and estimation markets
0 How “bottom-up” prediction markets have been of substantial benefit to Google, Best Buy, and Rite-Aid
o Lessons to be learned about prediction markets from Fortune Elkins, the “Technology Evangelist”
o Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall, and board-initiated markets
o Predictive markets and anti-terrorism initiatives after 9/11
o How prediction markets can help to determine relative value of government policies
o When and how to use prediction markets to make long-term predictions
o The desirability of running markets in a high-risk organizational setting
o What to do (and not do) when an organization’s leaders “really don’t want to know”
o The importance of “exercising exercising skepticism when faced with the results of an opaque prediction market”
o How to avoid “unnecessarily bad decisions”
No brief commentary such as this could possibly do full justuce to the scope and depth of material that Donald Thompson provides in this book. While I re-read it, two key points became even clearer to me. First, it is imperative to create and then sustain an orgaiational culture within collective curiosity as well as mutual trust and respect drive effectuve communication, coopeperation, and collaboration. Also, prediction market methodology is more reliable than any other options I am aware of but it is by o means infallible. Paradoxically, its success is interdependent with its failure. Prediction market results, indeed all predictions, Thompson notes, “have to be wrong sometimes in order to be accurate. Unless a prediction market says ‘100 percent’ there is never certainty of the event happening. At 100 percent, there is no point in running the market.”
Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Geoffrey James and featured online by Inc. magazine. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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When your team asks you want you want, here’s what you tell them.
My recent column, 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses, drew a flood of responses. But there’s one thing I didn’t mention: An extraordinary boss communicates his expectations clearly to his team. That way, everyone understands what it will take to make your company succeed.
With that in mind: If you are the boss, you’ll want to share this column with your team, because it will make your job a heck of a lot easier. And if by chance you’re not the boss, memorize this column–because it contains the key to long-term success.
Here are [three of] the rules for keeping your boss happy:
1. Be true to your word. Your boss wants to trust you. Really. Therefore, whenever you accept an assignment, follow through religiously, even fanatically. Do what you say you’re going to do. Never overcommit, and avoid hedging your bets with vague statements like “I’ll try” and “maybe.” Instead, make your word carry real weight.
2. No surprises, ever. The secret fear of every boss is that employees are screwing up but are not saying anything about it. So even if you’re afraid some bad news might upset your boss, make sure he’s informed. Note: If your boss consistently “shoots the messenger,” you can ignore this rule–because his behavior shows he doesn’t really want to be in the know.
3. Be prepared on the details. Your boss wants to believe you’re competent and on top of things. That’s why she sometimes picks an aspect of your job and begins randomly asking penetrating questions. Therefore, whenever you’re meeting with the boss, have the details ready so you can answer these queries with grace and aplomb.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Geoffrey James’ “Sales Source” (formerly “Sales Machine” on CBS) is the world’s most-visited sales-oriented blog and has won awards from both the Society of American Business Editors & Writers and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Sales Source is entirely independent and features the very best ideas from dozens of top sales experts and executives. To get column updates, sign up for his weekly “insider” newsletter or his@Sales_Source Twitter feed. His best posts, with many extras, are in his new book, How to Say It: Business to Business Selling.