WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

Welcome to my blog.  Here, I hope you will find posts that will kindle your curiosity, ignite your desire for learning, and sharpen your strategic leadership skills.

In this first post, I will share some thoughts on why I believe that leaders must understand the power and importance of definitions — about leadership, innovation, strategy, and creativity.  In subsequent posts, I will explore other leading edge issues around leadership, strategy and creativity.

Let’s start with creativity.  Figuring out what you mean by “creativity” and “innovation” is not an academic exercise.  It’s an imperative for leaders who want to build more innovative organizations.  There are three reasons why I believe this task is so important. Continue reading

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My Last Breakthrough Creativity Blog Post

This is my last blog post on the www.BreakthroughCreativity.com website.   As I mentioned in my December 2, 2014 post, I have spent a great deal of time over the last few years searching out the story of my eighth great grandmother Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier, who was born in France in 1643 and died in Quebec in 1716. What began as “interest” in my ancestor and her story over a decade ago has, over the past few years, grown into an obsession. As I have dug deeper into her life, I have visited the sites of her birth in Coutances, France and the various places where she lived in Quebec and prowled through archives and libraries here in Boston, then in France and Quebec. I’ve had live interviews and conversations with relatives and email correspondence with prominent historians. I’ve scoured the Internet for information. And I have learned a great deal about the Fille du Roi program that drew her to Quebec.  With each twist and turn on this journey, both logical and not, my obsession and curiosity have only intensified.

In 1671 Jeanne left France forever, a departure that changed her life. In her footsteps, I am leaving my twenty-year plus consulting practice, to search out and tell her story. And in doing so, my life also is changing, but for me in two directions. I am going back to my French-Canadian roots by honing my abilities to read, write and converse in French and establishing connections with distant relatives. I am also going back to my years of studying history and resurrecting my research skills to hunt down leads that add texture to my portrayal of her life, against the backdrop of 17th and early 18th century France and Canada.

Hopefully I am also moving forward, toward something…… Only I am not sure what that is, yet! That future certainly includes an appreciation for the invisible forces and synchronicities that seem to be driving my research and journey. A realization that I can’t find answers to every question that I ask – about Jeanne or about many other things in life. An awareness of the power of intuition.  Hopefully further growth in my creative talents and imagination and the acquisition of new skills and abilities.

And so, I am embarking on a new journey with the launching of my new blog site, dedicated to my ancestor, Jeanne Marguerite Chevalier.   As Jeanne’s 8th great granddaughter, writing almost 300 years after her death, I am weaving historically grounded facts together with creative hypotheses and my intuition to fill in any gaps and mysteries in her story. I will also be threading in colorful anecdotes about experiences encountered in my search for Jeanne’s story.

Jeanne’s is a story of endings and new beginnings.  And it’s a story of much courage, stamina, will, and many choices. I hope you will check it out ……

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Writing my ancestor’s story and the eight creative talents

A great deal, perhaps even too much, of my time over the past 18 months has been devoted to research around the life of my eighth great grandmother who was born in France in 1643 and died in Quebec in 1716. In mid 2013, I spent many hours preparing for a September trip to France, researching details about her life in France, brushing up on my French, and scheduling hotels and meetings. Towards the end of my three weeks trip, I Continue reading

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The Eight Creative Talents and Questions

When Bob Tiede sent me an email letting me know he had added my  post “Leading with Questions”  as a guest post on his blog http://leadingwithquestions.com this past March,  he added,” If you write any more posts about questions, let me know.”  His comment started me thinking.  Continue reading

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The Eight Creative Talents and Action Learning

Action Learning – an approach that involves putting together diverse, high-potential leaders into teams to tackle a critical, real-life business challenge — is now a vital element in quality leadership development programs.  Unlike in traditional classroom training, Action Learning team members use practice, action and deliberate reflection to acquire new skills and knowledge about the challenge at hand, the organization, teamwork, leadership, and themselves.

If you are familiar with action learning programs, you know that the benefits of Action Learning are many and significant.  But you also know that those benefits don’t come without thorough preparation, organizational commitment, and structural support for learning, skill development, and reflection. Continue reading

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Breakthrough Creativity and Mission Statements

A couple of weeks ago,  I facilitated a Breakthrough Creativity session for a department within a consumer products company.  The objectives of the session were several:  to introduce the participants to the Breakthrough Creativity concepts, to improve the functioning of the team, and to draft a mission statement for the department.  Continue reading

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New Blocks to Creativity?

Over the past twenty years, I have researched, studied, and written a great deal about creativity and the most common blocks and barriers that keep us from being our creative best.  I usually organize these obstacles into several categories, such as “organizational” (structure, culture, leadership styles), “demographic” (gender, age, ethnicity), “cognitive” (mental models, even the Eight Creative Talents!), “functional” (background, education, training), “technical” (absence or over-abundance of knowledge), “health” (stress, lack of sleep) and “personal” (fears, passion, motivation, etc.).  After describing and then discussing the various obstacles to creativity in workshops, classes, and conversations, I ask the participants to describe the obstacles that get most in their way.  The majority will say “personal,” or “I am my worst enemy!”

Well, over the past month I have experienced a major block to my own creativity which overlaps several of the categories listed above and shows how tricky obstacles can be!  I am not sure how to classify it actually, but it all started with the crash of my computer’s hard drive.  That was Tuesday, the 7th of May.  Two days later, I was back in business — sort of — thanks to my colleague who specializes in such problems and thanks to Carbonite’s tools that restored most of my Office files, although in different folders than I was used to.  It has taken several more weeks to get my other applications and utilities up and running with the data and files they need.  Plus there were all the passwords that were stored on my computer and which had to be recalled or created anew and then re-entered.   Now just about a month later, I am almost 100% back online.

So frustration and major distraction have been the order of the day for the last several weeks.  And what does all this have to do with my creativity?  Well, I haven’t been able to think of much else in terms of composing tweets and blog posts, finishing up articles, preparing workshops, and tending to clients.  My brain apparently has been stymied with trying to process anything other than the steps needed for the computer re-build. Talk about being inside a box!  And talk about being my own worst enemy!

What’s the obstacle(s)?  Limited bandwidth?  Health/aging brain?  Emotional (frustration? stress?)?  Inability to deal with technological challenges that seem to get more complex with the passing months?  All of the above?  Whatever category they fit into, they have been a horrible detour on my creative journey!

As with other obstacles to creativity, it’s most appropriate to have a plan and strategy.  My plan (and coping mechanisms), many of which are ways to deal with many of the obstacles listed above, include:

  1. Recognizing that these things take time, patience and perseverance.
  2. Accepting the fact that files may not be found in the same old places and I might have to adapt to new twists and turns in the configurations on my computer.
  3. Being gentle on myself.  After all, this is the first (and regrettably probably not the last) catastrophe with my seven-year old computer!
  4. Reaching out to others for guidance and help.  Thanks to the Neat customer support teams, the Carbonite folks, as well as my computer-savvy colleague, for their help and patience!
  5. Learning to live with the fact that some emails and other data might just be lost forever and that if they weren’t accessed within the last several months, maybe they aren’t really needed.

I am pretty much back to a new-normal and hopefully will be back on track with my writing very soon.

What unusual obstacles to your creativity have you run into lately and how did you deal with them?

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How to Add More Creativity to Strategic Planning

In a recent interview, Harvard Business School professor Cynthia Montgomery argued that we need more creativity in Strategic Planning.  I couldn’t agree with her more! Continue reading

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MBTI – Yes or No?

The topic of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (“MBTI”) has come up three times in the past few days – in a graduate school-sponsored webinar on leadership where it earned disparaging remarks from the facilitator, in a conversation with a colleague who was confused about its use, and in reading Patrick Lencioni’s recommendations about its application in his fabulous book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”  So I got to thinking about the concerns I have with the use of the MBTI: Continue reading

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Creativity Myths and Creative Confidence

An article in the December 2012 Harvard Business Review promoted the need for “Reclaiming Your Creative Confidence.”  In the article the authors, founders of the design firm IDEO, assert that “creativity is something you practice, not just a talent you are born with.”  I totally agree that there are practices to help you be more creative and to help you overcome obstacles and fears that are keeping you from being your creative best.  However, I still maintain there are too many myths and misunderstandings about the phenomenon known as “creativity,” and these myths can keep you from seeing yourself as creative in the first place and thus may be obstructing your creative confidence. Continue reading

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Top Five Personal Benefits from Creativity!

In addition to the many benefits that leaders can gain from creativity, the benefits for individuals are often beyond measurement.  Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed that creativity is one of the primary instincts and motivating forces of life and brings with it awesome powers and capabilities.  Here’s a short list of some of them: Continue reading

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