Sunday, November 27, 2011

When to just listen

It is an interesting phenomenon that at times we feel compelled to answer, when sometimes all people want is to make a statement and be heard.   On two occasions recently--the first a seminar where I was co-facilitating, and the second a meeting at my children's school--there were times when people from the audience made very strong statements during a Q & A period.  On both occasions, the people leading those sessions at the time both felt compelled to respond, even though the people had not truly asked questions but made only provocative statements.  The result in both cases was a back and forth that ended up, in my opinion, detracting from both sessions.  One of the most important tips I learned a number of years ago is that there is nothing wrong in letting a statement stand on its own...particularly where the person stating it is not truly engaging but only stating their opinion.  People will pick up on it, and will usually continue with your program without any problem, and in many cases, if you allow it, audience participants will facilitate that person themselves, which can be more powerful than you guiding or trying to resolve the matter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Find out what your team members would do as CEO

A great way to get quick strategic input is to ask your team members what they would do if they were in your role?  If you are a manager, what direction would they take the team?   If you are a CEO, in what direction would they move the company?

It feels a little scary, because your hope is that they do not say "I think you do not have a clue as to what you are doing," but at the same time, if people believe that, then I would certainly want to know.  

We engaged in this exercise recently and the items that people came up with were quite helpful.   I think that they also appreciated being consulted, and knowing that they also play a role in how the organization moves forward.  It is also important to have a culture where people feel free to speak openly....but it is very helpful as they will view the organization or your team from a very different vantage point and will come up with unique perspectives that you would never have the opportunity to see.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coaching and facilitating others--talk less, matter more

Whether it is a youth soccer team or a group of people in a corporate seminar, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of "talk less, matter more"  Here is a great blog on this by Daniel Coyle who authored the Talent Code.    It truly captures that essence of our philosophy in the exercises we deliver and the emphasis on interactive exercises and peer learning, rather than the focus being on a trainer/facilitator.

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Tuning in to your most creative period

One way to truly leverage your creativity is to be tuned in to your own personal rhythm.   And it is not always static.  For me, I have noticed that my new period has become early in the morning, between 3am and 5am.   Sometimes if I am experiencing a particular block on a topic, I will purposely go to bed around 8:30 PM to increase the likelihood that I will get up early.    For me, in addition to the fact that everything is quiet at that time and I have no interruptions, I also find that I am probably a little more connected to my subconscious at that time since I am still somewhat in that zone between the awake state and the sleep state.   For myself, this has also changed over the college, I definitely worked later into the night, so it is important to remain aware as to how your rhythms change.

By contrast, my wife much prefers the energy of working on something late into the night until it is complete.  Her creative process flows quite well as a function of her own self imposed deadlines.

Try to recognize when you are most creative, and when first getting started using creativity try to leverage your most natural periods in addition to other periods that you may want to focus on.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Networking with competitors

Recently, a friend mentioned to me about how he spent time on a regular basis networking with his competitors.  I was surprised by this, but when I questioned deeper, he explained that:

1)  It is a great way to discuss in general terms the challenges or opportunities you are facing (without revealing anything confidential).

2) Sometimes you may refer each other business if it is not in your area of expertise or you have over flow

3)  There may be back office practices where you can assist each other , without feeling as if you are giving someone a competitive advantage.

4)  There is probably enough business out there for everyone, so it will probably not hurt to simply have a dialogue.

I have just begun my experiment , so stay tuned and I will keep you appraised of the results.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creating your own advisory group--a valuable resource

Last week, I attended a conference in Mexico City for entrepreneurs, and in the group of attendees were two people that I have known for six years.   In between sessions (and sometimes during sessions admittedly), I worked through a new business idea with them.  For 3 days straight I was able to present, get feedback, revise, present again, revise and on and on...through multiple iterations.  I quantify the value of these discussions, and even better, neither of them are from my industry.  Sometimes we tend to get a bit of tunnel vision in sharing with people only in our business--drawing on bright people outside of these circles is also valuable.   And just because they give feedback doesn't mean you have to use it--but sometimes feedback you get may lead to other ideas you had not considered.  Characteristics to look for are people who:

1)  Question things

2)   Tend to look at the world a little differently

3)  Are from a different industry than your own (they do not see the same limitations you might)

4) Won't be offended if you don't use their advice

5) Have demonstrated that they have your best interests at heart

6) You respect

Make up your own personal advisory board, and see if you can find an opportunity to spend some time with them.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

FuturePerfect Leader--Adapting to rapid change

The FuturePerfect Leader is one who on a regular basis projects themselves ahead in order to adapt to rapid change.    To do so successfully requires a few key characteristics:

1)  Questioning--on a regular basis, are you asking yourself where you and your organization are, what your customer needs are.  Are you also asking variety of people--those who may be both inside and outside of your immediate network--to get their perspectives?

2)  Associating--For new disruptive, ideas to manifest themselves, we also need exposure to a variety of inputs.  Inputs can come from reading, hobbies that we may have, or other pursuits.   Do we expose ourselves to activities that put us out of our comfort zone, and force us to view the world in a different way?

3)  Innovation--once we have a new direction, do we make it into something tangible?   Not just thinking and creating for ourselves, but in a way that becomes usable for those around us?

4)  Risk taking--Are we prepared to put our new idea out for public consumption, whether the feedback is positive or negative?   Any leader who is projecting and innovating with a mindset toward the future needs this characteristic.

A futureperfect leader is constantly pushing to identify the next set of disruptive changes in their industry.

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