Monday, March 31, 2014

Great examples of Small Acts of Inclusion

Listed below are examples of small acts of inclusion for one’s personal transformation and for influencing the transformation of others.

• Having lunch with someone different than you
• Coaching someone culturally different
• Mentoring someone outside your comfort zone
• Thinking outside the box
• Teaming with someone with the opposite brain orientation (Right/Left)
• Confronting yourself in terms of exclusion
• Honestly evaluating your commitment to inclusion
• Noticing diversity in everything you do with others
• Sending notes of thanks to managers and leaders who are visible examples of inclusion
• Seeking to understand your social network differences
• Sharing a professional learning experience
• Coaching a new skill
• Adopting a zero defect mentality; and coaching it in others
• Learning a new skill every week; and passing it on
• Clarifying your career plan, then helping others clarify theirs
• Evaluating your skills—Interpersonal, Self-Management, Cross-Cultural, Technical, Management,
Leadership, etc.
• Evaluating others in terms of results—with sensitivity
• Helping others with career planning
• Helping others adopt a mind-set of 100% responsibility and accountability
• Extending tips for job support
• Sharing a personal learning experience
• Discouraging gossip
• Listening to a personal problem without giving advice.
• Thanking someone for his/her support
• Doing something kind for someone with whom you work
• Forgiving someone who was unkind to you
• Creating a “space” between experience and anger
• Being sensitive to the shortcomings of others—no one is “truly” perfect
• Learning from the shortcomings of others—they may be a mirror
• Making every interaction “a moment of truth”
• Counting the number of friends you made by being “right”

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Six key elements for creating a culture of collaboration

1. Commitment in terms of aligning and obligating one’s self to achieving a common objective, goal, or vision.

Behaviors: Evaluate and improve your level of commitment when working with others;
become aware of your behavior in a crisis; become a voice for prevailing in a crisis—learn
to stick with others to the end.

2. Respect in terms of acceptance of the inherent value and equality of others; particularly
where differences are prominent.

Behaviors: Learn to accept the differences in opinions, ideas, and the inherent values of
others when you collaborate—use conflict for new learning.

3. Trust in others to live up to their agreements, obligations, and responsibilities—both interpersonal
and professional.

Behaviors: Create a personal environment of trust by i) not participating in gossip, ii) living
up to your agreements/obligations/responsibilities, iii) and retaining the confidences of
others—earn the characteristic of begin trustworthy.

4. Inclusion in terms of transcending (not eliminating) one’s own personal identification to
become part of a greater whole; to create a unity of one.

Behaviors: Begin to extend your working relationships to people beyond your comfort
zone; be less judgmental of others; and combine ideas more, rather than using a win/
lose approach—broaden your perspective of others and yourself.

5. Leadership in terms of enhancing the growth, skills, and performance of others, regardless
of status, position, or title.

Behaviors: Delegate, assign, or seek assistance from others where there is an opportunity
to share your learning and/or gain new skills—lead by making others more successful.
Invest in your personal stock.

6. Creativity and Innovation in terms of conceptualizing, expressing, and integrating inside
and outside of mainstream thinking.

Behaviors: Use creative brainstorming for solutions rather than only one established way
of doing things; be open to out-of-the-box thinking rather than out right rejection—make
unusual ideas work.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Key Elements of Team Creativity--Opportunities and Challenges

The first step in being creative is of course to proactively use and apply creativity on an individual basis.  And as a necessity, one must be open to personal growth.

In addition to individual creativity, most of us work with others on creative processes in the workplace, and do not simply create on our own.   The requirements for group creativity are in some way more challenging than for individual creativity.

Actively seek people outside of my comfort zone—The first step is a challenge because I am actually required to seek difference.  This is at first a difficult task, because it is rarely in our nature to seek out people with whom we may have conflict and disagreement.  And yet it is such an essential element of the creative process.    The different types of dimensions of difference that we could consider include thinking style, work style, educational background, nationality, race, ethnicity, sex and communication style.  This is a small sample of the list of differences that we could select, and it gives you, but it give you a sense of some of the business critical dimensions of diversity that are available to us as creative inputs if we choose to take advantage of them.  The dimensions we select may have some relation to the objective of our project, but we may want to even consider some that we do not consider to be directly related to the goal as they may offer surprises that cannot be predicted in advance.

Of the different dimensions, the two that most commonly relate to those that we include or exclude in the workplace are work style and thinking style.  It is a subtle distinction for us to evaluate people on the result itself rather than focusing on how they achieve the result.   How often have each of us started to discount what someone was in the process of achieving, well before they were even complete, because how they were approaching a task that:

·      Was too linear
·      Involved too much discussion
·      Took too long because someone wanted to reach consensus
·      Went too fast because no one was consulted
·      Focused too much on details
·      Spent too much time on the big picture and not enough on details
·      That was not sensitive to people’s feelings
·      Tried unproductively to satisfy everyone

These are each examples of characteristics that can be strengths in different circumstances and can contribute to the creative process—but also where we require a truly heightened level of awareness to ensure that we are actively seeking out these differences when working together.

Be open to personal growth and know that my reality will change—I need to understand that I am going to experience transformation, whether it is when I engage in individual creativity or group creativity.  The gulf of transformation from one reality to another, however, will likely be more dramatic when I work with others since they bring a whole different set of experiences and perspectives.   Although it is true that what people create together may be more powerful, that creation will inevitably invalidate long held beliefs, value and truths that each individual may have held having an impact in many areas of life.

Embrace conflict—This seems like a tall order, since conflict is rarely fun.  However to help with the process, there are a few key ideas one can use.  A great practice is that when trying to critique on someone’s idea, the first rule is to try to suggest something that would make the original idea more effective in that person’s opinion.  In that way two things are achieved.  First, the process is additive, and ideas are being advanced rather than simply deconstructed.  Secondly, it requires more advanced thinking and true evaluation of a concept—it very easy to identify what one believes are the weaknesses something, but to authentically (and in an in depth way) evaluate in try to modify is a much more involved process.  Conflict and disagreement will naturally be a part of any creative process, and the key is to manage it in a way that continues to move forward toward a creative solution.

Ensure contributions from all team members—Team members have very different styles, and as a result, it takes an active conscious effort to ensure contributions from everyone.   Some people may actively participate immediately, while others may prefer to reflect and find moments where they can share their thoughts in a one-on-one way with different individuals.  As a result, when designing a creative team process, it is important to design opportunities to ensure everyone can participate.  Combine traditional group discussions with opportunities where everyone people perhaps are each required to present their perspective on a challenge in an in depth way, or even opportunities for people to share their perspective in pairs or in small groups before reporting to a larger group.  It can also be helpful to provide different media for people to display their perspectives visually through tools such as mind mapping, as many people tend to process things in different ways (some visually through imagery, others through spoken word, and others through written word).

Use limitations strategically—Limitations such as space, resources and time can often serve as a spark for creativity and innovation.  When groups are forced into challenging situations, they often are able to develop very new, innovative solutions to problems that they would not have otherwise considered. Although some people have the self-mastery to push themselves, many find their greatest levels of creativity when pushed by outside demands.

Team creativity is one of the most powerful processes available if people are leveraged correctly, and prepared to experience personal growth in the process.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Four Key Principles to a Creative & Innovative Workplace

Principle No. 1 – Create An Atmosphere Which Encourages Ideas and Changes
1. Be an example of the atmosphere you intend for creativity to flourish (modeling).
2. Openly encourage your people to be constantly alert for improvement possibilities in their own and others’ jobs.
3. Personally be alert for improvements and put them into effect whenever possible.
4. Devise projects for your people to cooperate with each other in developing organizational goals; foster team-building.
5. Carefully explain changes and new ideas to all those affected by them and sell the benefits of these changes.
6. Present department problems to the members of your group as opportunities for creative action.
7. Encourage employee-employee mentorship.

Principle No. II – Stimulate and Encourage Creativity in Each Individual
1. Understand the motivations that stimulate creativity. Apply this knowledge in dealing with your employees; particularly the very creative ones.
2. Continually encourage creative ideas such that employees believe creativity is expected.
3. Provide all of your people with the opportunity to solve their own problems before you, or others, step in to “help out.”
4. Provide as much opportunity as possible for an individual to actually try out his or her idea, with whatever practical resources are necessary.
5. Contribute to an idea from your own knowledge and experience wherever it is possible.

Principle No. III — Be Open and Receptive to New Ideas
1. Be empathetic and have a sincere interest in understanding a person’s ideas.
2. Be open-minded on ideas, avoiding biases or prejudices related to the individual or the idea.
a. Always keep in mind that conditions change; yesterday’s impractical idea may be practical today. b. Avoid personal antagonism or preference.
c. Be receptive, irrespective of a person’s performance in other areas of his or her level of responsibility.
d. Consider a given idea, irrespective of the quality (or lack thereof) of previous ideas a person may have submitted.
3. Give each person with an idea as much personal time and attention as possible (and is practical).
4. Treat complaints as suggestions and show appreciation for them.
5. Your mood and manner are indicative of your genuine interest 

Principle No. IV – Give Recognition For All New Ideas and Further Commendations When Deserved 1. Acknowledge and commend the person by: a) A special conference, meeting, or conversation. b) An appropriate memo, certificate, note, etc. c) Entries on permanent records (employment, suggestion, etc.) d) Announcing or presenting the idea before groups. e) Appropriate articles in papers, journals, or periodicals.
2. Recognize and commend the group or department as a whole when deserved. a) By publicity in various media. b) By the supervisor in group meetings.

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