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December 2006

Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoy this edition of the Practical Innovator, with its list of creative gift ideas! And may the new year be full of prosperity, good health, and much creativity!

in this issue
  • A Holiday Gift of Creativity
  • Gift ideas -- The art of possibility questioning
  • A gift for your team
  • More gift ideas
  • Give yourself a gift of reflection

  • Gift ideas -- The art of possibility questioning

    The questions you ask, out loud or to yourself, shape how you perceive, think, feel, behave and relate, personally and in your organization. They create the “texture and form of our experiences, possibilities, and results in life.”

    Why not give yourself a new year's gift of a new set of questions to open up worlds and expand possibilities. Add to the list questions like:

    * What did I do right?
    * What's possible?
    * What's working here?
    * What am I trying to achieve?
    * What's the best that could happen?

    My website has additional questions to use with the many leadership challenges of performance appraisal, coaching, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

    A gift for your team

    One of the major benefits of knowing how you are creative is the contribution of this awareness to higher job performance. Conversations with workshop participants have convinced me that the more you believe in yourself as a creative individual, the greater will be your creative output. Now there is research to support this perspective. A study of over 700 employees who responded to such statements as “I have confidence in my ability to solve problems creatively” found that a belief in oneself as creative was positively and significantly related to creative performance, with creativity assessed on such factors as “trying out new ideas and approaches to problems.”

    The study also found that this belief in creative capability is bolstered when leaders serve as creative role models and also build employees’ confidence through verbal encouragement.

    How can you promote more creativity in your team?

    1. Serve as a positive creative role model. As team leader, your words and actions communicate your expectations for innovative performance. The way you ask questions can impact how wide and diverse the answers will be. Questions that elicit "yes or no" type answers close off discussions and the free-flow of ideas and alternatives. Questions such as "in what ways might we?" or "'what would happen if?" on the other hand, encourage exploration, more positive thinking and insight, and thus lead to more creative possibilities.

    2. Appreciate individual differences. While everyone has the potential for being creative, or consistently producing different and valuable results, not everyone knows how to be their creative best. Whether a leader uses the eight creative talents of the Breakthrough Creativity approach or some other model, he or she must honor individual differences in the ways employees produce creative results and make creative contributions. Some team members may need more support than others to see themselves as creative. Some may need to be encouraged to add structure, discipline, and focus on details. Others may need to be prompted to gather more data and information before making decisions, while others may need to be prodded to move on toward conclusion. It's crucial to the team's creativity that a team leader remember one size does not fit all when it comes to being creative!

    3. Maintain great processes. Teams that produce extraordinary results have processes designed to creatively and effectively resolve challenges and successfully implement solutions. When processes are designed with flexibility, customer service, and excellence as the goals, they can actually speed up product delivery. As Peter Drucker has said, "Most of what happens in successful innovations is not the happy occurrence of a blind flash of insight but, rather, the careful implementation of an unspectacular but systematic management discipline."

    4. Provide encouragement. Remember to praise small steps toward more creative performance. Verbal encouragement goes a very long way in supporting further growth in creative contributions.

    Make plans to build more creativity in your team in 2007. The results in terms of productivity, employee retention and customer satisfaction are well worth the effort!

    More gift ideas

    Searching for new gift ideas for your team, your friends, or yourself?

    Check out Twyla Tharp's book, "The Creative Habit?" It's a terrific step-by-step guide for making creativity an integral part of your life. Or Lynn Robinson's new book, "Trust Your Gut?" Lynn shows you how to access the inner resource of your intuition to generate new ideas and make successful decisions. (Both are available on amazon.com.)

    Plan a weekly Artist's Date. Julia Cameron, in her book "The Artist's Way," recommends taking an hour or two a week to make an Artist's Date with yourself. That's a block of time set aside and committed to for you alone to nurture your creative consciousness. It can be an excursion to a new art gallery, a ticket to a concert to hear gospel music, or some other activity that's fun and playful. It doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to nurture your creativity!

    Invest in a museum membership to stretch your imagination and creative perspectives. Look for smaller museums with unusual offerings or just wonderful space where you can sit and restore your soul.

    Buy a handsome notebook with blank unlined pages to start a creative journal. This journal is not a diary, but a nesting place for creative insights and ideas.

    Or think about a two-hour coaching session for someone to help them figure out how they are creative and what they can do to be even more so!

    For more information, email me at Lynne@breakthroughtcreativity.com.

    Give yourself a gift of reflection

    Instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, find the time, whether it's 15 minutes or a whole precious hour to reflect on your talents and what you have done with them this past year.

    Then, try to figure out what steps you might take to get deeper in touch with those talents in 2007.

    Carl Jung believed that journey toward reaching your creative potential is "a lifetime's task which is never completed; a journey upon which one sets out hopefully toward a destination at which one never arrives." Your challenge is to get started. Not long ago the writer Anna Quindlen quoted George Eliot, as once having said: "It is never too late to be what you might have been." Then Quindlen added: "It is never too early, either. And it will make all the difference in the world!"

    Should taking a first small step on this journey be one of your new year's resolutions? If you need help in taking that first step, let me know!

    (Adapted from 2004 Winter Newsletter)

    A Holiday Gift of Creativity

    As you start your new year, promise yourself that you will ....

    Get Out of that Rut

    Oscar Wilde said,
    "Consistency is
    the last refuge of
    the unimaginative."
    So stop getting up
    at 6:05.
    Get up at 5:06.
    Walk a mile at dawn.
    Find a new way
    to drive to work.
    Switch chores with
    your spouse
    next Saturday.
    Buy a wok.

    Study wildflowers.
    Stay up alone all night.
    Read to the blind.
    Subscribe to an
    out-of-town paper.
    Canoe at midnight.
    Learn to speak
    Teach some kid
    the thing you do best.

    Listen to two hours of
    uninterrupted Mozart.
    Take up aerobic dancing.
    Leap out of that rut.
    Savor life.
    Remember, we only
    pass this way once.

    -- Anonymous

    "Creativity takes courage."

    -- Anonymous

    Breakthrough Creativity Products, Services and Workshops

    Consulting and facilitation services support organizations in strategic planning, new business creation, teambuilding, and leadership development. Services include organizational, team and individual assessments, through the use of proven diagnostics, and ongoing support for leaders and teams.

    Workshops that provide substantive material in an interactive environment, focused on practical application are also available. Sessions include:

    * Becoming a More Creative Leader

    * Developing the Strategic leader

    * Building Team Talents with Breakthrough Creativity

    Because of their modular design, workshops can be easily customized to meet each group's particular needs.

    Curious about the symbols in the newsletter?

    They are based on Australian aboriginal symbols depicting travel and change. The Breakthrough Creativity logo represents the new perspectives a traveler brings to the problems of others......

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    Copyright (c) Lynne C. Levesque. All rights in all media reserved.