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The Practical Innovator Newsletter
May 2011

Happy Spring! As my colleague Rita Allen wrote in her recent newsletter, this is probably one of the most anticipated springs we have had here in Boston. We are definitely enjoying the end of piles of snow everywhere and seeing some budding flowers and green grass.

I hope that you will continue to enjoy this newsletter which remains dedicated to providing leaders with practical ideas, techniques, and experiences to be more effective, productive and creative! And feel free to share it with others.


in this issue
  • Leadership around the World
  • Innovation around the World
  • Lessons on Creativity and Leadership from my Travels
  • What's New?
  • Next steps
  • How you can get involved!
  • Recommended Reading

  • Innovation around the World

    While sitting with my niece in an outdoor restaurant on Rue Mouffetard in Paris recently, I ended up having an intriguing conversation about national innovation styles. My niece and I were involved in a running conversation about the differences in work and educational culture between the French and those of us in the States and the impact of those differences on country-wide innovation levels. My niece who has worked in France for three years teaching English has major concerns about the number of rules and regulations in France. She fears these limitations keep French workers and students from being as creative and innovative as they could be.

    The couple sitting next to us turned out to be from Russia, and we got to talking about innovation and entrepreneurship in Russia. While acknowledging that we were speaking in generalities, we commented on the seemingly high levels of entrepreneurial activity in Russia, where from my observations and from this couple's comments, rules don't really exist.

    The comparisons of the three countries and their cultures were quite intriguing!

    A lot of research has been conducted on what countries can do to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, I have recently found research done by Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi, professor of strategy at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Santiago, Chile. See http://bit.ly/9l1RG4

    I will continue to study this issue as part of my commitment to continuous learning. But I am wondering what you think! From your perspective, is there a link between national cultures and innovation (defined as the ability of organizations to produce different and valuable results for their stakeholders -- from changes in products, business models, strategies, processes, and channels)?

    Lessons on Creativity and Leadership from my Travels

    Travel is one way I keep my creative edge sharp and stay ahead of my own S-curve (see book referenced below!). Here are some of the things I noticed:

    From viewing Monet's paintings at the Marmottan and Orangerie museums, leaders need to:

    • Be able to move between being up close for the details & away for the big picture as Monet did when painting his magnificent water lilies
    • Recognize the power of collegial relationships for encouragement & even more creativity, as Monet did with many of his fellow artists!
    • Understand that it takes diligence to keep seeing problems from new perspectives & with new light, as Monet showed in his many different variations on the bridge at Giverny

    From walking the galleries with our art history tour guide:

    • Leaders must acknowledge that creating requires persistence, knowledge and a lot of attention to detail!
    • Leaders can enhance their creative perspective by looking for what's not there, what's missing -- from a picture, mental map, plan or strategy!

    And finally, from Normandy: It's impossible not to be impressed by the many examples of COURAGE, great strategic leadership, and COMMITMENT that abound on the D-Day beaches!

    What's New?

    As with all good things, we sometimes have to wait. The revised "Breakthrough Creativity Profile" and the "Breakthrough Creativity Team Profile" have been delayed as a result of technical difficulties. Watch for them later this year.

    Next steps

    If you are interested in learning how I can help leaders achieve higher levels of organizational and personal performance in a variety of innovative ways, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary conversation.

    How you can get involved!

    Hope you are following me on Twitter @LynneLevesque where I engage with people from all over the world on the topics of leadership, creativity and innovation. I invite you to not only visit, but participate as well!

    In mid to late June, my blog will be up and running with discussions around leadership agility, global leadership, and neuroscience and creativity. All of these materials are designed to help you be a better leader in an increasingly global and complex world.

    Recommended Reading

    Here are some new books that I highly recommend:

    • Jumping the S Curve by Paul Nunes and Tim Breene (2011) about techniques to ensure your organization stays well ahead of the S-curve!
    • Another great book is Leading outside the lines -- by Jon R. Katzenbach and Cia Khan (2010). It provides terrific insights in ways to mobilize the (in)formal organization, energize your team and get better results. And it features one of my clients!

    An article that I found particularly useful was from McKinsey: "Seven Steps to Better Brainstorming" with some great tips on making brainstorming work for you team. Available at http://bit.ly/eUEySz

    Leadership around the World
    Lynne Levesque, Ed.D. photo

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    Several colleagues and I are researching cultural differences in mental models of "leaders" and "leading." We are trying to define critical differences in the ways we look at leaders and leading that are deeply rooted in our cultures, even in our geography. These mental models affect how we lead and how followers react to leaders.

    A vivid example of a culturally based mental model of leaders was given by a International Leadership Association colleague in a workshop last October. In the Ukraine, where he was raised, the word for leader is "rukovoditel," which roughly translated means one who "takes by the hand." As the word indicates, the cultural mental model was top-down leadership with workers being told what to do (led by the hand!). Such a mindset resulted in several obstacles when foreign companies came in after Glasnost to help with the privatization of industries!

    Why are we focusing on this issue? For a couple of reasons:

    1) We believe that attempts to develop global leaders may fail if these deeply held assumptions about what leaders are supposed to do aren't considered. And,

    2) We believe that truly global leaders understand these mindsets and are able to adapt their style to the culture of the country. Just as importantly, such leaders are able to adopt appropriate new behaviors from these cultures to become a truly exceptional global leader.

    Author of

    Breakthrough Creativity: Achieving Top Performance Using the Eight Creative Talents

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